The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday
The following transcript was generated by a machine and not edited by any human – so it’s full of of errors. I’m posting the transcript because the podcast is excellent and a crappy transcript is better than no transcript. Questions/comments: get me on Twitter @mgmobrien.
Eric Weinstein 0:06
Hello, you found the portal. I’m your host, Eric Weinstein, and we’re here today with my good friend Sam Harris. Sam, thanks for coming by. Thank you. It’s great. So first question, are you in any trouble that I don’t know about?
Sam Harris 0:19
I don’t think so. I think you are you know what trouble I get into as I get into it, I often look to you for
Eric Weinstein 0:25
well occasionally I get a call from you and you say I’m thinking about getting in trouble Rock me out of it. Yeah, try and if I if it happens that I’m not there for an hour and a half. I get another call saying too late. Yeah.
Sam Harris 0:37
I remember one. That
vacation that was unraveling and I was calling you from literally poolside in Hawaii. Yeah, the one vacation I take on my family in a year and I was I was poised to ruin it and and ruin it. I did and I don’t blame you for it. But whatever counsel you gave me did not did not prevent the unraveling of a vacation Well,
Eric Weinstein 0:58
I’m here to afford you the opportunity to ruin a future vacation. But let’s try to avoid it if we can. I’m just curious for First of all, I’ve taken your advice and Tim Ferriss Joe Rogan’s and started this podcast, you were actually the first person I sat down with, but I had so little idea what I was doing that we blocked out the windows, we had a uncomfortable table in front of the things that functionally was completely off.
Sam Harris 1:24
We had an Addams Family podcast.
Eric Weinstein 1:27
So we’re trying things I’m learning a little bit. But first of all, any it anytime you want to flip the tables on me, I’m game to what is top of mind for you at the moment, or should we should I can go into some topics. I’m curious. Oh, wherever you want to go. This is your show. Okay. So one of the things that I’m starting to think about is doing a little bit of retrospective work trying to think about where our world our country is, we’re going into another electoral cycle and I just think this is the most bizarre age imaginable. It doesn’t behave like any previous time. And I hear that we’re at peak this and peak that but I don’t see any signs of the, what I increasingly see is the incoherence slowing down? Are you also perceiving a world that is kind of intellectually unraveling? Are you seeing new kinds of formations that give you the idea that something is actually filling the voids that have been opening up when it comes to coherence?
Sam Harris 2:32
Well, I I worry that this is a kind of cognitive delusion that the think that the time you’re in is always sort of newly chaotic or incoherent or you know, the civilizations on the brink in some new way, in your time, but I I’m taken in by it. You gotta be kidding me. This This has never happened. Yeah, no, no, I mean, this is the but there’s got to be some name for this where it’s just, you know, it’s it’s Say, some kind of recency effect, or I mean, clearly there have been periods in history where things really have been on the brink, and in some new way, I don’t mean to suggest that like, this is mean, in general. No, I don’t mean like World War Two is about to happen. You know, World War Three is about to happen. But the I do feel like we’re witnessing several sea changes, which Yeah, I couldn’t have honestly said that, you know, 15 years ago, or 20 years ago, I mean, something, you know, something has changed, and it’s, some things have clearly changed change for the worse, and maybe maybe there’s a silver lining to this chaos, but I would be hard pressed to find it at the moment.
Eric Weinstein 3:41
Well, so when I’m sort of thinking about what kind of chaos we’re in and using the fact that you and I agree on a lot, which I think makes our disagreements more interesting because I don’t like the ground level. He said she said kinds of disagreements. I don’t think they’re that interesting. For me, the big thing That’s really new is that I can’t think of a single institution I trust. There’s no place that I can go to for ground
Sam Harris 4:08
truth. Like this is an example so that you take the New York Times and you and I whinge about the new york times a fair amount.
Eric Weinstein 4:14
I’ve been watching you transition.
Sam Harris 4:16
Yeah. I’ve grown pretty dark about the paper that I grew.
Eric Weinstein 4:21
Yeah, five years ago, you were somewhere else you
Sam Harris 4:24
Yeah, but but I guess I’m wondering whether the cohort before us 20 years ago, had this same litany of complaints about the New York Times or whether something fundamentally has shifted.
Eric Weinstein 4:37
Well, I I was on I’ve been on the new york times since the 80s.
Sam Harris 4:40
Okay, so you were early to this party.
Eric Weinstein 4:42
I was very early to this party for
Sam Harris 4:44
nothing has changed. So is this is this worse than the 80s?
Eric Weinstein 4:49
It’s a good question depends. Worse isn’t the right word. In my opinion, the way I would play with it is I’d say that it’s problem has always been the same which is narrative driven journalism. And the first clear indication I have of this, I think was a story about Woodstock, in which the paper told the reporter How old are you? You’re not that much older than me. I was, I was
Sam Harris 5:13
in my diapers.
Eric Weinstein 5:16
No, no, I don’t remember this as 169 Yeah, no, no, it’s not that. I remember reading. I will clarify. I remember reading a story about the journalist being sent who was sent to cover Woodstock by the times. Being told right about the filth and the hippies and the unkempt pneus. And
Sam Harris 5:40
strangely, that’s a bias that I now share. I at one point, I had a, the, the I there was a point in my life in my in my 20s where I kind of recapitulated the 60s for myself, okay and had nothing but you know, nostalgia for the 60s that I missed. But now I have a Fairly Joan Didion look at, you know, the slouching towards Bethlehem a moment, that was just the level of dysfunction. And the non acknowledgement of dysfunction was pretty shocking. So,
Eric Weinstein 6:14
but look, I’m not gonna really attempt, but I’m not I’m not gonna be blind. Okay? The, what I recall of the story was is that the times have told the reporter what sort of story to file. And the reporter called up the times and said, I refuse, I’m seeing something different. I’m seeing something inspiring and heart opening, and I’m not going to file that story. So if that’s what you want, and I have cholera. So I think that the narrative aspect of the New York Times has been both its structural reason for its importance, and the fatal flaw that in essence, it carries these very long narrative arcs that come from the editorial The editorial function at the times, and that those are written in some sense before the facts are known. And so the facts are then fit to the narratives. And then when the counter narratives occur, the times really either doesn’t report the story is and they really couldn’t handle the the situation that happened with my brother because it was exactly counter narrative. Or then they distort based on the idea that they need to push things back into the narrative. So I think that has always been present. And there are particular kinds of stories that the times writes that I find Absolutely. I’ll go so far as to say borderline evil. And what they do is they crowd out whatever natural inquiry process would be happening. So I’m happy to get into a couple of examples about that. But I would say, I think that the problem has been there at the New York Times, all along. There are some new things that I see is happening there, like a conflict between the old line journalists with the new line of sort of You know, Brooklyn based writers who are telling us how to think Yeah.
Sam Harris 8:06
What? What do you make of I don’t know if this the time is maybe an exception here. But I think generally what’s happened in journalism is there’s just been a clearing out of real journalists, right. I mean, the business has gotten so bad. And again, the times and the post and the Atlantic, there’s a few outliers here that are doing well, in the age of Trump, at least, you know, sort of, well,
Eric Weinstein 8:27
Trump is saving their business. Yes.
Sam Harris 8:29
Yeah. I mean, they were actually they they weren’t doing great before Trump, but now they’re doing okay. But the rest of journalism has been gutted. And now we basically have the blogosphere. And it’s kind of what the huffington post it to the landscape where you just have a lot of people blogging for free. propping up a a, an ad based clickbait business model, sure.
Eric Weinstein 8:56
But the ability again, that the I guess what I want to play with is Is there something special about institutions imagine that you can get all the interesting articles that you like, somewhere and somebody’s saying something interesting, you can piece them together. But the fact that there’s no institutional home where you can trust that, like a, you know, the Office of Management and Budget or something or
Sam Harris 9:18
but it’s not what I’m saying about for journalism, about journalism in general, is that what you think of as the institution image just like the veneer the front facing website, is not even an institution in many cases, like you, it’s hard to differentiate what is a blog and what is an actual journalistic resource that has editors and fact checkers and copy editors? And, you know, for certain sites, the distinction is is apparently non existent. I mean, so like, you know, people used to think salon was real journalism or out with the Guardian with I mean, the Guardian has like a kind of the blog side and the right the Guardian say you can’t tell the difference. You’re just reading what somebody wrote and
Eric Weinstein 9:59
well, and you find And the same people on Twitter.
Sam Harris 10:02
And then every way it’s not on Twitter or whatever their reputation really is, you know, or should have been.
Eric Weinstein 10:09
But you could just see their their bias, like they’re not hiding on Twitter and then they hide it when they’re in their journalistic frame.
Sam Harris 10:19
Well, I would argue that on I’m fairly forgiving on that point, because I feel that Trump has made the hiding of one’s so called bias, a irresponsible essentially, it’s like you can’t you can’t pretend that this is a normal president doing normal things. No, you’re going to be a normal journalist without an opinion a while I agree
Eric Weinstein 10:40
with that, although I would say You and I are very split on this. So just put a placeholder maybe we’ll get back to maybe not that I’m more worried about the loss of things like Nature and Science than I am the New York Times. I’m now worried that there is nothing Even in the hard sciences, almost, that can stand up to the onslaught of political pressure creeping into everything that has to be able to say no, then we’ve lost the ability to tell people to screw off if they’re wrong.
Sam Harris 11:18
certainly been creeping up on us in the life sciences. It’s been true of the social sciences for a very long time.
Eric Weinstein 11:25
Yeah, it probably, you know, physics and math are going to be the last to go. But I’ve even seen a little bit of inroads there. And so I find the loss of nature and sell in the universities terrifying. For differently from the New York Times like this is this is a few layers. deeper and more dangerous. Do you not perceive that?
Sam Harris 11:51
Oh, I think it’s just different problems. I don’t know which is more consequential. I think the I think the failure to have A fact based discussion and the incentives to avoid one. I think that’s a just the scariest thing we have going on apart from the the, the true monsters of, you know, pandemic and nuclear war and things like that. Well,
Eric Weinstein 12:18
those are now increasingly relative with the, you know, vaccine or anti vaxxer controversy, but there’s the self refereeing. Like, one of the things is really important to have a decent discussion, in my opinion, is you have to agree with what a discussion is and what constitutes an illegal move. And increasingly, I feel like we’re having these combat sports where we can’t agree on what rules like is biting an ear part of boxing, maybe it is maybe it isn’t. Who’s to say well, that’s an imposition of your views on mine. Who can still self adjudicate?
Sam Harris 12:55
Well, I think if you wait long enough, you see The failures of hypocrisy, right means that you see people try to enshrine a new set of rules that prove unworkable in some of the context, you know, or they, they just can’t live up to them because of, it’s impossible. And we’re now noticing, and it’s been, you know, widely observed that, more or less, if you wait around long enough, everyone’s going to get canceled. You know, it’s like the repurposing of the Warhol quote, you know, we’ll all be canceled for 15 minutes to be 15. And it’s always that way. Just, just before we started this podcast, we were joking that, you know, Justin Trudeau has yet another blackface photo of himself, apparently appearing online. And here is, you know, one of the most woke and sanctimonious enforcers of this new norm of just, you know, political correctness, you know, stretching to infinity and he’s he’s got a Not only blackface in his past but a apparently a positive passion for blackface. That’s a recurring issue. Yeah. So it’s, it’s, I mean, the hypocrisy is is so delicious but it’s it’s just the Yeah, these these new norms of not being honest about facts just can’t scale and then people will people will be tripped up by them and it’s not so you can we can’t do a lot of harm to ourselves in the meantime or in certain areas. I think we’re trying to do harm to ourselves.
Unknown Speaker 14:40
Yeah, I think that the idea
Eric Weinstein 14:45
you know, sometimes I think about Trump as the doctor who has to break a bone that has mis been mis set in the hopes that it can finally heal properly. And this is one of the places
Sam Harris 14:55
where you have a doctor who doesn’t know which bone he has in hand and and i isn’t actually intending to heal you. So well he was like so happy accident of the doctor who happens the madman who happens to have a hold of the right femur and is breaking it for the wrong reasons but to good effect,
Eric Weinstein 15:12
right or you know as a doctor in folklore and from some non accredited university so sorry
Sam Harris 15:19
to keep segue on you, but I know you have a passion for India. I remember once traveling in India and seeing somebody a doctors, it was actually a dentist’s shingle and it was say, you know, Western trained dentist and in parentheses failed, but but having just admitted having made the attempt was enough to put that on the on the shingle. Oh, that’s good. Yeah. I mean,
Eric Weinstein 15:42
that those. So, I think you get Trump wrong. Right. And it’s not. I see what you see. And it’s maddening. It’s driving me crazy. I hate the idea of spending four more precious years of my life. dwindling life, talking about whatever Trump last said or tweeted, or worried that I don’t know what would happen if we actually had a five alarm fire in the US that had to be handled.
Sam Harris 16:13
Did you think my model of his mind is wrong or my model of the consequences of him being in office is wrong?
Eric Weinstein 16:19
Well, I think that you were slow to give him his due. I mean, of course, as you know, I wrote this essay on kayfabe. Right, anticipating that professional wrestling was going to turn out to be incredibly important, and in fact, I thought it was going to determine the presidency. That was a belief I had that understanding how allies play within the mind and how it policy works. And then a concept called namespaces at a Python programming, like how we compartmentalize led me to believe that in essence, we were Seeing these other candidacies and other countries in which people seem not to be able to distinguish an actor from the character that they played, you know, whatnot. And so I believed that the system of lies within professional wrestling told us what was possible and Trump actually sort of came out of the WWE through his association with with the McMahon family, and I believe that he actually understood deep things that psychology departments will wake up to 20 years from now. Yeah, like, I guess
Sam Harris 17:34
I suggest I’ve suggested by analogy to the Chauncey Gardiner effect or the evil Chauncey Gardiner effect, well, but it that’s wrong. Yeah, I think,
Eric Weinstein 17:43
I think but it’s hard to know, that could happen. I mean, it’s like that, right? It’s definitely falsifiable. My theory is falsifiable. He could prove to me with a string of utterances that he’s the evil genius, that I haven’t imagined him to be. But he said, If you and I had a couple of old fashions between us. And we sat down with 1000 of his tweets, we could figure out that there were current structures and we could write an Eliza program to generate them to tangle Democrats. I think that there’s much more method to the madness. And I, I don’t have to go full. Scott Adams. Scott, I know you’re out there somewhere. To say that everything is intentional and brilliant. I just think he’s got a, you know, it was four years, I said that if you wanted to win an election against a Democrat, you just talk about the nuclear family. Well let them correct you to nuclear, right. And then you’d win because you’ve come across their last.
Sam Harris 18:36
Eric Weinstein 18:38
So I think that there is a certain amount of method that you were slow to give, give him credit for. But I think you’re probably inching towards the idea that if he’s not an evil genius, he has some evil genius.
Sam Harris 18:50
I think it’s just again, I’m enamored of my Chauncey Gardiner analogy. All right, well, here’s another analogy that is even simpler and
Easy easier to confirm
that it’s clear there’s a method, but I think it’s just a very simple method that the power of which is an accident of the context. So so it’s like an Instagram model has a method, right? You know, they just, if you have a great body, show it to great effect on your Instagram channel and then wait around for people to follow you. Right? So there’s a very simple formula. There’s no question it works. It’s there’s not a lot of method to it. But in the rallies that he likes, the rallies are a feedback mechanism, right? So he knows he knows that the feedback that he’s getting from the press in general, has a constant distortion. And so by holding a rally, he can figure out to some it’s like constant A B test, but but it doesn’t have the fact that he wasn’t cancelled for one of his sins. He was no but the fact that the fact that there’s enough there are enough people to insulin, he has enough fans of this style of communication and living, that he’s he’s on cancelable. Right. The fact that we have 40 pencil, knowing that we have 40% of the American population that fundamentally does not care about any of the things I care about. In Him. I disagree with the Sam, I think you’re getting this wrong. This is what I think might be interesting. I’m happy to be okay. I’m happy to be wrong to you. So you think they So, at what point?
Eric Weinstein 20:31
I think we’re still in the stage of being so angry at bill clintonism. Yeah, that we just want to know you’re not owned. We want something that convinces us that it’s not taking orders, but but we’re completely insufficient, on the point of view be potentially being owned by the Russians when that begins to get leaked. Believe me I think about this. I don’t know, I haven’t followed all the details. It’s possible he’s compromised. And under direct control.
Sam Harris 21:10
Well, let’s just bracket that we don’t let’s say we don’t know. But when that begins to become a story and incredible story, zero interest from the people who are worried about him being owned by the usual see
Eric Weinstein 21:20
you don’t carry the same anger and passion that I do for getting rid of the rod that was the American Center. In other words, I believe one of the things I find very confusing is is that you and I think would normally have been called centrists, right? But we’re not crypto, we’re not klepto. centrists. I’ve never been in a position to you know, to loot the Treasury from the position of being a centrist. Right. So the interesting thing about the center is that the center produces the the blank canvas of America on which we get to paint. So I’m not really super excited to get a politician That makes me swoon. I want somebody to just just so a canvas so that we can build all of the companies and nonprofits and do all the beautiful work that makes this country amazing. I’m not trying to get my entertainment from government, the thing that crept in to our system with Reagan and bush giving way to the Clintons back to Bush, and then busted up bizarrely, I thought Obama was gonna be a break from this. That thing induces a passion in some of us to get rid of it. We hate it. And I don’t know that you carry that passion. Well, I think it’s harder for you to understand it, and I carry it not from a right wing perspective. I carry it from a progressive dissenter left position.
Sam Harris 22:50
Well, some of this comes back to the hypocrisy point I was making before so I have that trumpian module in my brain That feels just the pure shot and Freud have seen Justin Trudeau get hoisin hoisted on his own petard. Right, so here’s this sanctimonious enforcer of woke culture. Just pandering to the left is clearly unsustainable. It’s clearly dishonest it’s and unworkable. And you know, we offline we spoke about just that moment where he’s, he’s admonishing this, this elementary school age girl when she says the word mankind which is you know, it’s great to hear a sixth grader use a phrase you word mankind basis. No, we say people kind of maybe they say people kind up in Canada. I haven’t heard that. But you know, even just saying humankind there and and enforcing that, that taboo, there was just that’s the elitism, the goofy elitism that that
Eric Weinstein 23:58
it’s not the elite ism. It’s the fact That these people have been picking our pockets and they’ve been divorcing us from each other I’m just saying I get the let’s just watch these fuckers burn
Sam Harris 24:09
stream of pleasure that you can get coursing in your brain right and that that explains a lot of the the Trump phenomenon where it’s just on some level they don’t care that he’s the most odious liar we’ve ever seen. They’ve been his his fan base. They just love to see him wind up the lib tardes right. They love to see you later pars it Sam I
Eric Weinstein 24:29
am really trying to get at something I may be wrong. So forgive me if I’m if I’m going off on a tangent, but I really think that there was something much more evil. It wasn’t just that these people were sneering at us overcrowded a you know, it’s like, it’s that they were picking our pockets. They were divorcing us from each other. They came up with a bullshit ideology, if you will, of the Davos flavor. That said, you know, we are the world and divorced us from each other. Other in terms of our obligations to fellow countrymen, above our obligations to people who, you know, live abroad when that was really a cover for figuring out how to make money when we were largely in many ways stagnant. And so you had a class of people who probably blew out the Gini coefficient for the US without getting to the real issues of the fact that we’re a country that we put people in uniform and, you know, send them into harm’s way that we have a higher duty and care and most of our minds to each other than we do to equally deserving people overseas.
Sam Harris 25:37
But for the most part that the left was the political party, that that it I mean, everyone was part of that same extractive economy, but the left at least paid lip service to the virtue of spreading the wealth around Well, you know, there’s this poem
Eric Weinstein 25:56
by Lewis Carroll about the walrus and the carpenter. And when The Alice sagas and they’re both going to trick a bunch of oysters into following them and then eating the oysters and one of them is quite clear about his desire to eat oysters, and the other one makes a big show of how sad it is that they played a little trick and all of them were eaten. And the key question is, which of these two figures is more reprehensible? And I always dislike the one who was terribly sad about what they’d done? I think that’s the left.
Sam Harris 26:29
Yeah, there’s something to that. But I think there’s also
Unknown Speaker 26:34
Sam Harris 26:38
all too common phenomenon of people motivated by actually good intentions, even incredibly noble intentions, causing a lot of chaos that they didn’t intend, right. So let me take is that is that your model for what was going on? Well, it’s, it’s, it’s my model for part part of it. So you saw me take someone like, I’ll take you know Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook right well, I don’t know Mark you know, I don’t know how mercenary he’s been from the beginning or and how out of touch with the possible harms. He might cause he’s been but I can well imagine that here’s somebody who could honestly say connecting people is an intrinsic good, I’m just going to do that better than anybody and the wealth will come. And this is all good for everybody right and then only at the 11th hour You know, long after many of us have have noticed a problem he begins to play catch up with a problem that’s it that’s a fairly charitable view of what he was up to or the you know, the Google guys you know, don’t be evil. Like I don’t think when they said Don’t be evil, they were you know, twirling their mustaches and and winking at each other, knowing all the while they were going to create a juggernaut of instability for and and also get fantastically wealthy and anchored to a extractive and ultimately unethical new kind of surveillance economy that you know, we’re going to be, you know, hard pressed to change. I don’t think I At what point did they grade into having consciously bad intentions or consciously intention intentions that were so mercenary as to be unethical, but a pure case of this for me falls in another sector, not economy, but foreign policy. You look at somebody like Samantha Power, right, who you know, who wrote this famous book on genocide a problem from hell. She, you know, she drew lessons from our failure to intervene in a place like Rwanda, right at that we were morally culpable in some basic sense for not having intervened, right, we could have stopped the bloodshed. We didn’t we even had, you know, Navy SEAL teams. I mean, Jocko it was just on this has to Jocko I think was off shore you know, at the time and we you know he’d drawn the lesson from Somalia seeing our you know, the the Black Hawk Down incident seeing our soldiers dragged through the streets that we just can’t get involved and what happens when you are the one superpower and you decide you can’t get involved well, then people, you know, butcher their neighbors and there’s no way to stop them. So, I think with the best of intentions, she and many others drew the lesson that we really do have to be the world’s cop on some level and we have to get involved and we’re morally culpable for not stopping a rape in progress or murder in progress. And but now we’re on the other side of that you know, U shaped horror curve where we now know what it’s like to get involved with however, mixed intentions and we and it’s a thankless job right like a bill nation building is not a it’s not a job that we’re gonna want for for a long time. And for good reason. I actually have some weird backstory on that one
Eric Weinstein 30:08
now. So I knew Samantha Power at the Kennedy School. And she and I sat down. I mean, not well, I think we sat down at a meal, we had friends that connected us, is what you were at, what what are you interested in? And she said, Well, I’m obsessed with the Red Sox and genocide.
Unknown Speaker 30:26
Yeah, that’s what, that’s a good icebreaker.
Eric Weinstein 30:30
And she said, Well, you know, the wrap on me is I’m all genocide all the time, but nobody cares. And I, you know, I’ve got this book, and I can’t figure out the answer to the question. Why is there not a resolution that we will never Why is never again, not a resolution. And every time I try to get a state to sign up for this, or somebody take this seriously, there’s this weird wall that comes down with the clearest thing in the world that we should never let genocide ever happen again. Right. And she was convinced Nobody’s gonna take her seriously, this was gonna go nowhere. And then progressively somehow this thing started to catch fire. And I for a period of time, I was emailing her, like, do you believe it now? Do you believe it now, but this is because I knew this thing was going to get huge. I also knew that it wasn’t gonna work, because it just, it comes from this beautiful place that is not really deeply beautiful. I mean, it’s sort of meretricious, it’s appealing, but it doesn’t understand what the forces are the Create genocide because very few people want to go that deep on that question. And in that case, I saw a human being who I can just vouch for this was the purest of intentions early on. And then it at the complexity started to reveal themselves. She became in meshed in a very difficult series of trolley problems are truly like problems, right. I believe that that partially has happens in places like Facebook and Google. But very often, I think it’s your theory of mine that I’m going to take issue with, which is that I don’t think people are as unified in their thinking they very often have a mercenary part of their brain and a beautiful part of their brain. And they have a partition that keeps those from talking to each other. And one of the ways in which I found this out, was when a group of people, doctors, actually in New York City, wanted to sort of use me as a consultant for my mathematical and analytic mind. And we went out for a very fancy dinner. And they said, I said, What’s the topic and they said, reconceptualizing medical debt. I knew nothing about this. And essentially, what they told me is that if you go to an emergency room, and you agree to have all sorts of things done, you don’t feel like paying exorbitant inflated bills later because you feel like that was an emergency. I had no ability to actually click the Search shop around Yeah, exactly. And this is actually But if you give somebody the ability to say, Okay, what what if you pay us at two cents on the dollar? And we’ll we’ll let 18 cents go. Then suddenly the the performance of that debt skyrockets Hmm.
Unknown Speaker 33:19
Eric Weinstein 33:21
a phrase came out, which was when they talked about reconceptualization. They said, it’s a beautiful thing. And I realized that I had heard that phrase in New York whenever people are up to no good. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful thing. You know, it’s just and so I then put out this thing in my group, which is, did you notice that when people in New York do bad things to other people, they always say it’s a beautiful thing. And sure enough, it caught in people’s minds. Whenever anybody started to say it, they realized, oh my gosh, I mean, a part of my mind that recognizes that I can transfer wealth from somebody else to me. Largely without the other person knowing it in a way that results in benefit for me and some harm that’s been externalized. I think that people both know that they’re doing tremendous harm and carry the idealism that propels them. That’s it’s the combination of these things, and the fact that they don’t talk to each other.
Sam Harris 34:20
Yeah, well, I think people are, you’re not going to get me to disagree there that people are impressively split, or at least can be. And I think coherence, generally speaking, or at least striving for it is good. And I think I’ll live in an examined life, in part is is, is struggling with those discoveries of incoherence and figuring out how to get this congress of mind as you call yourself to actually go here,
Eric Weinstein 34:50
but you’re getting them to go here.
Sam Harris 34:52
Yeah, no, so But, but when you’re talking about the normal person, who I think it is a frequent phenomenon to be to have you know normal the normal range of good intentions to not be a sociopath to want to help the world to be in philanthropy for instance right to actually to be this Amir or if you’re devoting your life if you’re a you know a smart person who you know got a good degree who could work more or less anywhere but you decide to work for for a charity right you’re already an outlier you already somebody said no to Wall Street or no to Hollywood or no to something and now you’re working for the you know, the Southern Poverty Law Center or something like you want to just stop racism right? So you’re already one of the good guys right? And but so you know, this is a example dear to my heart that I flog at every opportunity. The Southern Poverty Law Center is you know, I think was probably consciously started for the best of intentions operated under the you know that the blindingly brilliant light of those intentions for a very long Time, but something flipped. And one thing that flipped is that. And it’s probably unbeknownst to everybody. There’s a bad incentive problem here. I mean, the only way they survive as an organization is to continue to stay at in the sort of long emergency mode of there are Nazis everywhere, right? Everyone is like, this is a problem. It’s a four alarm, fire, give us money, we now have a budget of whatever it is, you know, $30 million a year. I mean, it’s gotta be huge. And, you know, the fundraising drive never stops. And so what happens to an organization like that, when you begin to run out of Nazis, well, then you got to, you have to find more, right? Like you can’t, the incentive is to never recognize that you’ve gotten a handle on the problem, right? It’d be like, you know, in some, you know, epidemiologic epidemiological space where you know, you’re curing smallpox, but you could never admit that. You’ve been actually cure that you have to pretend to find smallpox everywhere. Now I’m not saying obviously I’m not saying white supremacy or white power or anything has been cured. But what has happened is you have people who probably were true outliers in their, in their ethical scrupulosity who are now behaving in appalling ways. You know, people’s reputations, calling them Nazis when they know they’re not Nazi.
Eric Weinstein 37:22
Well, let’s be, let’s put a finer point on it. They are now more likely to let the genie out of the bottle because of their bad behavior or to you know, huff and puff on an ember. That is the pathetic Ku Klux Klan of 2019. Right to actually create something that could it could turn into a roaring fire. I mean, this is a general feature. I often talk about this in terms of magnetic and true north where the angle of declination that separates them is very small at the equator, yet in northern Canada, it is
Sam Harris 38:00
Since a very large Yeah, right and, and at the pole South is everywhere.
Eric Weinstein 38:05
Well, that’s right. Yeah. Right. And so it’s just the problem is is that the institution? I mean, look, I’ve made this point elsewhere. So regular listeners will have heard it. But the concept of the embedded growth, obligation, the ego of an institution, which is it has to do work and grow in order to meet its mandates. That is the thing that has metastasized throughout our institutional structure. And so it’s not the sub Southern Poverty Law Center. I mean, that’s particularly egregious, but the entire university system, every single measure you can take on that thing. Looks like an intergenerational wealth transfer, right down to the non discharge ability of student debt and bankruptcy, whether the loading up of every university by administrators and the monopolization At the moment, almost 100% of our leading institutions are run by a baby boomer, whereas the average age and a different era of a university president, we could have most of them under eugenics control. And some of them under millennial control. There were university presidents in their 30s, who had a huge impact. I mean, that is a system which has gone totally metastatic. Yeah. Yeah. That may be an outlier. I mean, it’s the wake of word. It’s the worst large system of its kind.
Sam Harris 39:33
Yeah, I mean, the way costs have gone up their way outpacing inflation, medical outpacing medical Yeah, yeah, it’s, it’s amazing. And the fact that you can’t discharge your debt in bankruptcy. Perfect. Yeah. And the fact that, you know, many of our friends have spent a lot of time complaining about this, but the fact that you have whole fields that are essentially you know, Sham fields, Right that are in the humanities where it’s just pseudo knowledge is being imparted to the next generation. And it’s not only its own its walled garden of pseudo knowledge it is a disparagement of real knowledge like so like lately anti science, you know, moral panic that is happening in the humanities. It is a fit,
Eric Weinstein 40:19
Sam Harris 40:21
Well, it’s it, apparently it’s fit. It’s fit thus far. I mean, it’s producing new graduates. Yeah.
Eric Weinstein 40:26
Well, and it’s colonizing things outside of it. But yeah, I mean, they’re all black journalism, tech, human resources, anything which is a high leverage, but often poorly paid for the level of intelligence, usually required or the amount of training usually required, becomes attractive. So there’s a perverse incentive when you can’t pay journalists or scientists or even technologists at appropriate levels. I know people will scream so you have no idea how much money tech people get paid. I really don’t Believe it, I think that those jobs are supposed to be even better compensated because of large scale tampering in the sector. What I believe is that we’re looking at the difference between truth and fitness. And if you recall, when I first went on your program, I said I care about four things. Truth is one of them. But I also care about meaning, fitness and grace. This is a great example where fitness is out competing truth.
Sam Harris 41:32
But we have a hand in this we can tune the landscape, right says that Well, sometimes it feels
Eric Weinstein 41:38
like the two of us. Yeah, so I call you saying what the hell’s going Yes.
Sam Harris 41:43
A relatively small number of people can do it. It’s not it’s not doesn’t take 7 billion people or 8 billion people who’s got the man No, but like, you need to convince the top, you know, 3000 people, that one way of talking doesn’t work right and to to align fitness and Truth more faithful, you know
Eric Weinstein 42:04
this. I’m not used to disagreeing with you this much but
Sam Harris 42:07
I got this I came here I loaded alter ego. Yeah.
Eric Weinstein 42:13
Sam, I think we’ve screwed up a lot worse than you’re imagining in the past. And that that is the fodder for the twin evils of trumpism and woke ism.
Sam Harris 42:25
But just just grant me the the possible sea change effect of 3000 people, the right 3000 people fundamentally getting their head straight on these issues or any issue, right, whatever it is. So you’re talking about basically all of Hollywood, all of journalism and all the science that’s public facing, if we could do
Eric Weinstein 42:49
that, yeah. Okay, in some some thought experiment. I guess what my feeling is, first of all is is that my head is so filled with malware. I’ve got I’m running so many nonsensical programs put there by other people that I don’t even know or nonsense. Where I can detect you have a sense of what direction to point
Sam Harris 43:07
and where you’re gonna find the nonsense.
Eric Weinstein 43:10
Well, so 40 worried about? Well, so we’re currently sitting in a room with reflective glass and anechoic tiles that
Unknown Speaker 43:19
Eric Weinstein 43:22
If I echo locate, by things that I am absolutely positive would sell newspapers that aren’t printed. That it’s like, okay, your Echo locating and instead of hearing the reflection off of glass, you’re hearing a an absence, which is anechoic tile. And so if I just look at Google Trends, which tells me what people are searching on, if I look at how Google autocompletes which tells me what they want me to see is what other people are searching on in the search bar. If I look at what stories aren’t being run, all of the dead stuff is astounding to me right at the moment. Like, I know, for example, that people are fascinated by the Jeffrey Epstein story. And in general, like, you know, we just had so normally I don’t love talking about current events because it dates the program, but we just had Kevin Spacey, his accuser reported as dying. I don’t think that that is likely to be part of some super evil plot to just so people can calibrate. It’s not that everything that could make sense because there’s an incentive, I chalk up to the conspiracy. The Jeffrey Epstein thing is totally different. And you and I both met this guy for 15 years, and he’s the only person I’ve been saying this with conviction about for 15 years I had one meeting with him. I’ve said he’s a construct. Somebody hired a person probably named Jeffrey Epstein to play a role. super genius mega billionaire philanthropist. I wasn’t buying any. I’ve never bought it and I’ve talked to everybody in our sort of new Will network always use one word? Because I want to make a huge bet that when the time came, I would say he was a construct and that I would be revealed to be correct and that everybody was asked what do you mean by a construct?
Sam Harris 45:13
Right. Okay. Do you need to have you clarify that on your podcast before? Probably not.
Eric Weinstein 45:18
I recorded an entire Jeffrey Epstein episode, which is just me soloing for an hour, right? But I haven’t released it because I’m terrified. I’ve had one ambiguous dinner where somebody sort of quasi threatened me and I wasn’t entirely sure what they were saying is a little bit creepy.
Sam Harris 45:36
This is a
strand of human complication that you’re way more in touch with than I am. I don’t deny that it exists. Right. So like, I think there are real conspiracies and powerful people occasionally. You know, do what powerful people are occasionally sociopaths and then they they do what you would expect or conspire to do what you’d expect. So I don’t have a strong feeling about let’s just take the likelihood that Epstein was was had a facilitated suicide. I think the likelihood that he was murdered is low. But I commit
Eric Weinstein 46:12
suicide. I don’t have time agnostic about that, whether whether people stepped away so that he could do the thing that he needed to do, whether there’s some vanishing probability that he actually isn’t dead. I don’t know that. I put that at very low. I put that very low odds as well. Yeah.
Sam Harris 46:28
But I know I’m a fan of the zero odds soon.
Eric Weinstein 46:31
Well, I wouldn’t I know enough about probability to put almost nothing in zero a huge difference between those people who insist when I hear somebody insist that that probability be zero. I take and that person is smart, but effectively,
Sam Harris 46:44
effectively 00 in the sense that I basically don’t have I worry about I waste no time thinking about it at the moment,
Eric Weinstein 46:49
right, but I’m happy to have my Bayesian priors tutored. Right. Okay.
Sam Harris 46:54
So I just don’t have a I mean, as you know, I’m taking in or I utilize this homily that you shouldn’t ascribe to, to malice. What can be explained by incompetence or whatever that the formulation is? I find that that’s a interesting heuristic for somebody. It’s, it’s usually I think it’s usually true, right? So like it works much of the time and then it, it fails, but it fails in a case where you get more information. And then you update Well,
Eric Weinstein 47:22
that’s what that was. That was exactly my point that the Kevin Spacey thing I would say is in the realm of Newtonian mechanics, right? And then the Jeff Epstein thing is like, relativistic quantum field theory, whatever your Newtonian laws are, we’re not in Kansas,
Sam Harris 47:36
right. But I had no unless you put me in the same room with him. So I should probably clarify that. So I have I found myself as you both apologize.
Eric Weinstein 47:43
Nothing happened. Yes, right.
Sam Harris 47:47
I found myself at a lunch with him at the TED conference, and had no insight into him or what he was up to, apart from the fact that he you know, my sort of creep detector. went off.
Eric Weinstein 48:01
I spiked like crazy. Yeah,
Sam Harris 48:03
I mean, I just he was someone who I didn’t want to spend any more time with because he had this sort of
schlocky rich guy.
But within will not know, it’s just but like, when you see a, I guess he was probably, you know, close to 60 at this point, and, you know, he’s with a, you know, 21 year old, you know, it’s like, it’s like the optics of that are all it means that, obviously, there are many rich guys who do that, you know, and there are many, certainly many people in Hollywood to do that. And, you know, that’s just the way people some people roll when they have the opportunity to roll that way and Okay, fine, but he was just a, have a kind of a level of, you know, judgmental ism around that, right. You know, it’s like, at minimum that’s a, a, an attractor on the on the landscape of well being that is not all that interesting to me. And so when you see someone catch captivated by that like, this is like, life is going great because I’m 60 and she’s 20. Right? Like, that’s the one variable that
Eric Weinstein 49:07
that was Howard about his Lamborghini. Oh, that’s exactly
Sam Harris 49:09
right. Okay, that you’ve, you know, you’ve bored me already. So, but I had no more insight into him than that. I mean, maybe three times is what from one meeting? I’ve been talking about him for 15 years, right? No, because this was like a 10 person lunch, okay. And I had maybe, you know, three sentences exchange with him, you know,
Eric Weinstein 49:31
so mine was at his house, right? ushered into a waiting room. He’s got some super complicated electronical electronic art. I get up I look at it. I said, Wait, is that is that a camera inside the art? I first think I’m a genius for finding cameras. I the next thought is I’m supposed to find the camera inside the art because the camera The art is supposed to draw my attention. I’m supposed to see that I’m being recorded. called out to a room and back with a huge, long sort of exaggerated dining table with a giant American flag as its tablecloth so that any food or drink that is served on it may spill onto an American flag, right? And I’m just in high alert, like, Fuck you. Who who are you? Right? And it comes in and I got this attractive again, over probably 20 to 23 year old woman, I think she’s introduced as an heiress or something, right? And he’s bouncing around his knee. In order to get my attention, there’s some other guy says nothing during the meeting. I have no idea what he was doing.
Sam Harris 50:38
And I think I want detail I’d like to add here in defense of the many people and the many scientists who are in this guy’s orbit, and who didn’t know how unseemly his life actually was. Some of these young women who you’d meet in his company, we’re not just, you know, bimbos or strippers or MIT that some of these people, we’re going to Medical School and there’s like these were like smart young women well
Eric Weinstein 51:02
and, and adult fitting on nurses incredibly important distinction. I don’t think that the news media has done a good job of teasing out it’s very attached to the idea of pedophile Island and Lolita Express, right? And that lazy, sensationalist journalism is crowding something out, which is that in general, from what I understand it, so I met him in 2000. I think 2004 maybe 2003. But before his Florida incarceration and charges, most people that I knew who met him, met him with young adult women. And so my theory is that he was constructed to be the Safia sexual, Hugh Hefner. Right, and that they stupidly hired, probably, and I guess I don’t know this Humbert Humbert for the role, and that that dichotomy explains at least a lot of the initial willingness of the science community to play with this person that. I mean, I’ll be honest, I’m not particularly judgmental about consenting adults, even if it’s probably ill advised, you know, to have a 50 year spread between two people. If somebody is 20 and somebody at and there’s just
Sam Harris 52:14
a completely different things, it’s very easy to see that if you’ve seen this guy, be sort of the womanizing schmuck right within the bounds of, you know, total legality and he’s surrounded by 20 year olds, and you know, he’s got a 40 year everybody’s party
Eric Weinstein 52:28
to the game and something about money,
Sam Harris 52:30
you would never you would never suspect this other thing about him. Right. Okay. So
Eric Weinstein 52:34
that is not fair defense. After the Florida situation, the Florida situation changes that structure.
Sam Harris 52:43
You mean his his
Eric Weinstein 52:45
prosecution or Well, a lot of Miami Herald thing that came out like a lot year ago? No, no, the prosecution, right? So a lot of people continued to talk to him in part because and I think this is something that hasn’t been teased out. He was supporting a, an older style of science, which this is again, some things can be super complicated, was much more disagreeable. Now the woke movement has seized on this as well. That’s the cowboy oppressive science of male assholes. But he was supporting a network of people who might not have been supported otherwise to somewhat break out of the mold. And because the US government had stepped away from that work and in in large measure, in my opinion, yeah. People were so dependent on him that they were eager to look the other way. And there was also the hint, I think that this wasn’t really Jeffrey Epstein, that this was really something else funding.
Sam Harris 53:47
I don’t know about that. I mean, I think the, the relative penury of science is a corrupting variable and the fact that we under fund science Yeah, and that it matters When the rich guy comes into the room, right to scientist because they’re so starved for money, that’s just that’s just corrupting. Look, this
Eric Weinstein 54:08
is I’ve been honest, this is gonna get us into the immigration question which is that the in the mid 80s under Reagan, the science complex, particularly the National Science Foundation under Eric block, through the National Academy of Sciences in a subdivision called the government University industry research Roundtable, grr, conspired to destroy the bargaining power of American Scientists by flooding the market. And what they did is they did an economic analysis with both supply and demand curves. To say that the wages which you can calculate when you have two intersecting curves, we’re going to go above six figures for new PhDs and then let’s get a lot of Indians in here and and well, it’s for it was for countries it was China, India, Taiwan and Korea. China went from zero to 60. And like, no, yeah, they were sending us nobody. And then there, I think there were like over 25% of all graduate students, and of course, graduate students aren’t students, they’re workers. So there’s a cryptic labor economy inside of the universities. And what the University System figured out was, is that in order to get this work done, we’d have to have this, these misclassified students who do the work important as foreign workers. And what we would do is we would take the economic analysis, which they secretly did in 1986. And they’d subtract off the demand curve. And they just do a supply analysis based on the demography of the baby boom, going into the baby bust, which is our generation Gen X. And that demographic alarm was sounded to get the Immigration Act of 1990 passed, which has like the h1 B is one of its most famous features. So that’s a whole story about how the actual workings I’m the guy who Who uncovered that? And I chased that all the way down to the person who wrote that secret study that was never released, never dated, never offered. Right?
Unknown Speaker 56:08
Eric Weinstein 56:12
was the stepping away of the federal government from its caught its commitment through the van of our bush endless frontier agreement to fund the kick ass blue sky research that this country has done better than anyone else.
Sam Harris 56:26
But how is that distinguishable from what on its face seems to me to be a rational policy, which is, why not try to attract the world’s best and brightest and incentivize them to start their businesses here, settle here. You know what, once you’ve gotten your PhD at Harvard, you know, you you’ve got a green card and you know, here’s your here’s, you know, Silicon Valley’s over there, you know, I mean, so what when you start speaking, I feel like I’m hearing the Stars and Stripes Forever.
Eric Weinstein 56:57
I’ve had one hand over my
Sam Harris 56:58
heart instead. of liberty is in the background with Emma Lazarus poem at the bass line actually believe that No, no, but no, but my point is that strikes me as a good policy even though that would create more competition for you know, so called Americans right because we’re we’re now open for for the world’s business. But if you actually wanted to maximize creativity and and industry here, you would want to import Indians and Chinese and Taiwanese and Koreans.
Eric Weinstein 57:32
Well, I mean, look, I’ve married the maximum number of brilliant women from the developing world who came here to do stem that the law will allow. Right, right. So I’m absolutely
Sam Harris 57:44
guilty. You got your wife and they want to close the border. What?
Eric Weinstein 57:47
Yeah, well, first of all, that’s how country clubs work. Right? Right. So the idea is that when you get out of a country club, when you get into a country club, you don’t instantly say, Well, I don’t understand. It would be immoral for me to close. The Country Club. I mean, so it’s a very weird thing for me that people who are very steeped in what you were just talking about, which is this interesting mimetic complex that got pushed out. don’t tend to think critically about it. Of course, we want the best people in the world to come to the US selfishly.
Sam Harris 58:20
I mean, you know, well, not everyone doesn’t I mean, the person who has to compete with the best coming from India and Taiwan and China. Yeah, that person, let’s say in in, you know, software engineering, that person has fat is now suddenly on a much more competitive playing field. And yeah, this is this is so what I was told about this, but I’m just not i’m not saying that it’s not without cost to somebody. It’s definitely costing somebody something,
Eric Weinstein 58:49
right. Like the bad people, the people No,
Sam Harris 58:51
no, no, not the bad people. But just it’s, it’s like,
Eric Weinstein 58:55
I don’t even know how to go into all of the things that are like really funny and wrong about this. Like one of Which is, well, are you afraid to compete with somebody from India? Well, maybe I’m afraid to compete with 100 people from India, you know, like, the issue is, what is
Sam Harris 59:10
the point you’re competing on this podcast? You’re competing with people from India? I mean, you’re competing with, you know, their 800,000 podcast. No, you’re here competing with with 799. Because it’s
Eric Weinstein 59:21
not a uniform style, because it’s not a uniform product, Sam.
Sam Harris 59:25
No, but you’re still it is still you
Eric Weinstein 59:27
know, when you talked about software. Right, right. Most of software is glorified for and while loops. Let’s not, you know, you invoke a library, you code up a class
Sam Harris 59:39
and add source. All right.
Eric Weinstein 59:41
Well, no, it just, I’m just saying that most of what it is, is you’re just writing code. Yeah, it’s got a kind of a mystique about it, because a lot of people haven’t done it. And it’s too symbolic, whatever, right but it’s plumbing. And it’s plumbing. Yeah, and a lot of Sciences plumbing. Yeah. And so a lot of the stuff about the best is not very relevant if you wanted to take the stuff that’s really distinguished. You know, like, you’ve got Raman Nugent coming from India, you know, you’ve got, you know, Ellis coming from South Africa, whoever it is, that’s really amazing. We have plenty of room for the tiny number of people who are absolutely non homogeneous, super contribute. So you’re just saying you want to set the bar higher. I’m not saying that I’m saying a lot of different things. One is that people in a country have rights. And they have asymmetric rights to their own labor market. That’s a large part of what it means to be a citizen of a country. If I start to talk about your rights that are perhaps your most valuable economic possession. If you really think about the American workers most valuable economic possession is asymmetric as access to the American labor market. If I say you know you’re right, is not an asset, but is instead an impediment. It’s a barrier. And what we need to do is get rid of the red tape. And I’m not gonna pay you for it because it’s not an asset. I’m going to take it from you. And I’m going to say that that’s what the free market is, well, that has nothing to do with the free market. I wrote a paper called migration for the benefit of all that pointed out, you’re free to securitize people’s rights and pay for it. Right. And then everybody wins. Yeah, that’s not what
Sam Harris 1:01:26
we do. Okay, so but that’s that’s something we could do, though.
Eric Weinstein 1:01:28
We could we are not interested in economic. That would be a cosi and rice on. Right. And that’s called the koshien solution, right? And the funny part of the hysterically funny part about it is that no capitalists who claim that they’re interested in getting rid of the inefficiency that comes from being forced to use your own labor are interested in the model in which you actually pay people for their securitize rights because the real thing they’re interested in is not the tiny inefficiency which is called the Harberger triangle. There’s a giant Structure below it called the Morehouse rectangle, which is what is transferred from labor to capital.
Sam Harris 1:02:04
The amazing thing is, you’ve referenced this several times over cocktails. Yeah, in the last few years.
Eric Weinstein 1:02:10
Well, but but my point this is because I’m sorry. chatter. No, but I want to say I see it differently. Sam, I see your comment that well, don’t we want the best and the brightest where you don’t reference wage competition? It sounds more like intellectual competition. Right? When you when you when you open a border, and selectively only in certain fields, it’s like opening a window in an airplane, and it specifically affects the seat at which it’s opened differently than everywhere else in the plane. Right? Right. So the problem I have with this is that it’s a large mimetic complex and get it popping back up to the Jeff Epstein issue. The entire university and scientific complex was built on this incredible embedded growth obligation. Right, that is the thing that caused the system to have to rescue itself with immigration. So it’s really not about immigration or brown people or I don’t want to compete against the best and the brightest. The issue was, we didn’t have enough people to feed into a pyramid system. And what you could do is you could we could reference a poverty differential between Asia, which was training people acceptably well in technical subjects, but had at a lower level. Now, that’s changed some to fill in the bottom of the pyramid. And so that’s really what it was. It was an economic exploit that has nothing to do with the best and the brightest, or the color of one’s skin. It was just a way of saving a pyramid scheme.
Sam Harris 1:03:39
Why so clearly, there’s room for innovation on all these fronts, and we should be eager to do it. And we should be certainly eager to find Ponzi schemes that we didn’t know were Ponzi schemes, right, like, Well, I think it’s, we, again, this cut cut touches, where we started when we’re talking about semantic The power and other and the Southern Poverty Law Center I think there there are systems we set up with the best of intentions and you know projects and meme, you know mimetic complexes, we launch, you know, upon the world with the best of intentions, and we don’t see the way incentives will align or the or the, you know, the knock on effects, or the externalities of of doing those things. And it’s just the world is more complicated than we realize, well,
Eric Weinstein 1:04:29
and that’s what was. So that’s like the thing that scares me a little bit. Remember, I said that I have malware in my head? Yeah, my belief is, is that a lot of the beautiful things that you were thinking about, about being open to the world training the best and the brightest, keeping some of them for ourselves, distributing some of them back home to grow the pie for everyone, etc, etc. That’s a mimetic complex that I I associate with malware, it’s not that there aren’t aspects of it was movement. I think it’s close to the right program. So for instance, like if you say, yeah, it’s the fact that I’m Not thinking when I say that about the
Sam Harris 1:05:06
I forget how you put it, but the the, the difference between the local case and the imported case, right, you know, the by by analogy, you know, opening the window in the airplane, or just the fact that you know that you’ve got people here who are paying taxes to help build out local infrastructure that some then some Titan of industry is going to leverage and globalize, right. And you know that money is not coming back then. Right? Well, who are paying taxes games? the totality of these games? is what got us very angry at the clinton era people.
Eric Weinstein 1:05:45
Yes, is that the Brad delong is and Paul Krugman and Jagdish bug bounties and Bill Clinton’s of the world, all these people pushed out this idea and we didn’t know how to how to oppose it. But what they were doing was allowing a slice of our country to continue to grow it slices of the pie.
Sam Harris 1:06:08
Hmm but again it’s just easy to find the non nefarious not malignant Lee selfish. This is what I have straight. I’ll give you another example which which I think use you’re totally familiar with but will seem less sinister. Or at least it seems to me. So you take what happened to the music industry. So it’s like we have a a breakthrough in technology. We go from vinyl to CDs. And then me those we suffer those jewel cases for about a decade. And then we get PMT threes. Which open the door to piracy of a sort no one has anticipated and then we managed to close down the piracy we have the the iTunes Store and people are but but because of this, this is explosion of piracy and now the prospect of of just you know, now it’s all bits, it’s not atoms anymore. We have a just a fundamental devaluation of the product, right? Like the music in the music, the value of the music has basically gone to zero, right? Because my my using a copy of it is not it’s not
Eric Weinstein 1:07:21
taking two things. It’s exhausted ability and excludability. Right. The idea is that if I buy a vinyl record, one, my use of it will eventually wear down the grooves as I used to do in the old days and to my having the record means that you don’t care. Yeah. And that the the per the unit cost
Sam Harris 1:07:41
is not zero, so I can’t copy your record for free.
Eric Weinstein 1:07:44
Yeah, that is this issue about private goods and services became public goods and services. And even the diehard economists who are free market have to recognize that if something is inexhaustible and an excludable price does not equal value, and therefore it cannot command value. So
Sam Harris 1:08:01
that was clear to many of us just as but I’m saying there’s a non nefarious account of what happened there where your iTunes or your Apple you open iTunes for the good of all right but you you obviously want to make a profit right this is a fantastic business. But when if you’re the musician right now who’s now catalogue is now worth you know one 10th of what it used to be worth and now you’re you have this sort of life change foisted on you where now the only way for you to make ends meet is to tour but you’re you know 70 years old and you know you felt your Turin was behind you write all of this looks awful. But again, nobody was thinking about that guy when they when these changes Well, shit. Well, easy to see that most people weren’t thinking we’re No One No One that had bad intentions toward that.
Eric Weinstein 1:08:52
Remember, information just wants to be free and free likes beer and all that. I thought that stuff was just Like moronic at the time, it did the same thing with NAFTA. Right? The
Sam Harris 1:09:04
claim was not it but again, so so what you had in your sights was not you can’t I don’t think you’re you’re the wrong theory of mind. If you think everyone was aware of what you were aware of, and just had the say the ethical no switch flipped in the other direction.
Eric Weinstein 1:09:22
The class, the economic class teaches public goods in every econ one on one textbook, right? They also teach trade, they have two different names for what happens to improve a society in terms of how its measured one called purrito improvement, which is that everybody in the society is as good or better off, and the other one called Kaldor Hicks, which is some people get hurt. Some people get helped, but were you to tax the winners to pay the losers. Everyone can be great or improved. Okay? When you Ask these people in real time. Why are you talking about a Kaldor Hicks improvement in parado terms? This is the technical esoteric conversation. Why is your exoteric description of this at odds with your esoteric? Alright, this is pure stressy in cryptic bullshit. They said, Well, we can’t really say that and we hope that somebody’s that’s not our job. It was this wall of total nonsense. And it wasn’t that this wasn’t being said in real time.
Sam Harris 1:10:34
Well, the number of people I’m sure you can find the people at the conference, who were they have one way of speaking to the profession and one way of speaking on
Eric Weinstein 1:10:46
the times was one of the reasons why you and I split on the same two lab. I stood shoulder to shoulder with the seam during the total nonsense called the Great moderation in our financial structure. You’re in For 2008
Sam Harris 1:11:01
and I yeah, the only reason why I’ve split on the same is that he just wakes up one morning and you know, off his meds and attacks me, for reasons I can never but as well. So it’s like it’s totally personal like, Oh, it’s me. It’s intended to be personal. It’s not that I take it personally, I actually, I don’t
Eric Weinstein 1:11:16
even think it’s intense or be personal, but he can correct me on that. But
Sam Harris 1:11:20
it’s apropos of nothing like I’ve been, you know, I’ve been sleeping when he was sleeping. And then I turn on Twitter and I see that he’s attacked me by name. For some reason my phone
Eric Weinstein 1:11:29
lights up and it says there’s no there’s no intellectual con when it says the same. Nicholas Taleb has been my friend for a long time. I literally shake. Like
Sam Harris 1:11:39
I have to hit Right, right. Yes. But that’s a problem of his personality that he’s exporting to the environment. No, you’re part of the environment. Look,
Eric Weinstein 1:11:48
the seam is not an inside cat. He just is I see the things he does. And I get I get a lump in my throat. And I think Am I gonna have to defend this? I know, I know what he does. But I think people don’t know understand him. So at least let me offer up an apology for Nassim Taleb, which he may rip my head off or say the seam is constructed around things that are much larger than what other people are considering. And I don’t I’m not saying that he does everything. Well, I obviously have a totally different tack than he does. So I’m very uncomfortable with his methods, but let’s at least say what they are in steel manner to the extent possible. Other people say you, you you are misusing statistics. The scene would say, there’s a problem with statistics. Yeah. And it’s constructed to be misused, and it’s misused all the time, in the same way. And if you do anything that you were normally taught to do in statistics class, if you have a PhD in statistics, you’re part of the problem and I’m gonna hold you personally. Right. Now, this is very disconcerting to people.
Sam Harris 1:12:54
Yeah. So I mean, I don’t think we should spend a lot of time on this, but There, there are areas where I am not qualified to fact check him out the areas where I am where he has opinions are just as strident. It’s just a just a deluge of bullshit coming from him. So like, you know, the stuff he has said about religion and science is not even I mean, the truth is it’s not even wrong. It’s like it’s it’s incoherent. It’s not like he’s got a, a counterpoint that I still think is wrong, but you know, it has to be argued against I’ve gotten there just this vomitus Look, I’ve gotten there too. I can’t stand the style because it just hurts me like it’s very uncomfortable by it. However, there are plenty of times when I thought he was talking nonsense that like at first it sounds like he’s making a sensible objection. Then I’m just like convinced this he’s going off the rails. And then I push further and it turns out there’s even more of a point. So
Eric Weinstein 1:13:52
I have learned to be very cautious around him, not because he’s the person you Walk around for most of the time. But when we were in the middle of the great moderation and I, I punked out, because I was I was with him and I was giving talks about Epstein and made off. There was two mysterious functions in New York, right. And I used to put slides up about Black Arts capital was sort of a play on like, black stone or black rock. And I did we tell you what we’re doing, but we’d have to kill you for the we just didn’t know and I got made off wrong. I thought he was front running his legitimate business, which turns out it was just a Ponzi scheme. But I knew Epstein was very likely to be something totally other than it was Nassim during this period of time that we were both discussing the nonsense that was the suppose a great moderation was the other guy who would take as much punishment as the community would throw at him. And they were just humiliated. It’s like, Oh, you made one lucky trade 1987 the guy’s an idiot. He’s a blowhard. He’s a fool. And I couldn’t take the pressure from giving this talk that obviously we hadn’t banished volatility. And I think around 2005 I was about three years in and the same says, you know, you’re gonna regret getting out of this early, you should see it through. And it always stuck with me that I didn’t quite have the courage or the strength or the guts or the disagree ability to continue at least to hold the intellectual position. I couldn’t time when this thing was gonna blow but it was, you know, I wrote this thing on mortgage backed securities with Abdullah Abdullah Ali in 2001. This was nonsense and it was a world in which almost no one was willing to call it out. And so the singularity in my in my world about Nassim has to do with he’s willing to be one person against billions. He will he will literally just stand up against any crowd.
Sam Harris 1:15:56
Okay, well, so that’s, that’s often a bug and you found the one case per Perhaps where it was a feature. But it’s I mean, first of all, we’re all like that to some degree. We’re all standing up on me right and yeah, but it mean
Eric Weinstein 1:16:09
I do it you do it but yeah, you don’t get weak knees. I get weak need what?
Sam Harris 1:16:14
Yeah, occasionally but it’s it’s there is a kind I mean, again I’m not to psychoanalyze him but there’s there’s a sort of trumpian level personality problem layered on top of his intellect where I’m not disputing that guy is smart. He said, there’s no question. He’s smart, but there’s just there’s so much personality to get through and wrangle with to interact with, whatever whatever smarts are showing up for depending on the topic. And again, with some topics, you know, I haven’t found the smarts but I’m not disputing that the guy obviously he’s intelligent, is just, he’s so there’s no one more enamored of his his intelligence than him. Right. And it’s just, it’s like that level of egocentricity. Again, it has a kind of trumpian You know peacock fan quality to it and in in the cases where it’s warranted it’s still extra and is bullshit and it’s annoying when it’s unwarranted It’s embarrassing and he has zero sense of where he is on the scale. I hear what you’re saying.
Eric Weinstein 1:17:18
I do have the sense of the number of floorboards that I can hide under when the stormtroopers come for me a very few and far between that I can count on I can count on his okay but
Sam Harris 1:17:29
we don’t need to do range on that if we’re in a high price on purse I get
Eric Weinstein 1:17:33
well no I’m loving about on on
Sam Harris 1:17:35
personal loyalty. Yeah,
Eric Weinstein 1:17:36
well, you know sam i honestly I find the same thing about you. Yeah, if I’m in a storm, you’re one of the tiny number of phone calls I can place and it’s very odd for me that I would want you to I would want you to feel that way. I
Sam Harris 1:17:48
do. Absolutely do so pick one I call pick it up and yeah, okay, but you’re not you need not shudder at what’s coming. But
Eric Weinstein 1:17:55
getting getting back to the to this large. So with all of these very dangerous and disturbing topics I start to understand that you believe and I think it’s correct, that we can often get to hell through a road paved with good intentions. Yeah,
Sam Harris 1:18:10
I don’t disagree with and and the converse is also true, you can have you can have good effects of bad intentions and that’s and you shouldn’t you shouldn’t credit the good effects too highly there you know because like the I think intentions matter. For the most part, I mean intentions are the operating system. So because like if you’re if you’re iterating on your intentions, if you’re if you’re error correcting right and hewing back to to the the outcomes you actually want, right? That is those are the people we can collaborate with, you know, when they’re when they’re ethical. The people who are right by accidents, how producing good things by accident, are,
Eric Weinstein 1:18:54
it’s how it’s how we encode this that’s so interesting to me like when we order veal We just say the word via we don’t think about what it is that we’re causing to occur.
Sam Harris 1:19:04
I want that I want the three minute video before I eat the veal exactly right.
Eric Weinstein 1:19:08
Like very few of us do
Unknown Speaker 1:19:09
Eric Weinstein 1:19:11
When I think about like how Debbie Wasserman
Sam Harris 1:19:12
Schultz that’s why I don’t order veal. Right, that that’s that’s a different at a certain point. Too much information has a consequence, right. Like I’m not comfortable with veal. Or Flogger. Ah, right. Yeah. So it’s like it would matter. If you said Well, here’s veal, but this is veal. This is pain free veal, right. This is veal that was, you know, synthesized in a lab. No animals involved. Yeah, the problem goes away. So that’s that that’s the fact that there’s, you’d want there to be a difference there. You wouldn’t want me well take the most extreme case. You wouldn’t want to be the person who would pay more for the veal. If you knew there was more associated suffering associated with it, right? You wouldn’t want we wouldn’t want one. They be the person who For Whom the suffering is part of the pleasure. Right? That’s the there. That’s clearly a place on the moral landscape. You don’t want to be in. Yeah. And you don’t want to be associated with, right. So if that’s at all unsavory, then there, there are many gradations of better than that.
Eric Weinstein 1:20:20
Right? So let’s get back to my issue about orcas are either the best or worst species.
Sam Harris 1:20:26
Yeah, no, but I didn’t mean to derail you, but it matters. Like, we need to unpack the mimetic complex and get it what’s inside and it matters if we if we fail to if there’s a lot inside and we were unaware of it. Sure know that that matters.
Okay, how often are we just saying veal,
Eric Weinstein 1:20:47
but really, for example, what I remember when Debbie Wasserman Schultz was being interviewed about super delegates and she said they’re not super delegates, they’re unpledged delegates and delegates, and why do we have to Have them and I think she said something to the effect. And if I’m getting this wrong, I apologize. Something like, well, you wouldn’t want the the people who aren’t regular party workers, you know, just being able to take over the party, something like that. So I was thinking, Oh, that’s what we all think it is that it’s a primary and that the people who are registered Democrats should figure out who they should support as a candidate. Her point was, well, we have to have a thumb on the scale. Otherwise, democracy might happen, right? Yeah. And like that thing is how we encode the badness. We encoded by creating some different way of talking about it,
Sam Harris 1:21:40
how we encode it, or we fail to encode it, how it becomes operable, or how
Eric Weinstein 1:21:44
well nobody is a bad person in their own mind. Most of the time. Yeah, most so when I do bad things. I encoded differently. So we were just in a situation where we were waiting in a very long line of cars. For an off ramp, and our car, you know, sort of zoomed ahead and then asked somebody, you know, understanding we would cut in right towards the exit rows. So, you know, sort of high fiving like cheese, we almost got caught in that really long line later in the day. Somebody cuts in front of us, much less of it. Yeah. problems like, Can you believe that guy? And so the way in which we sort of see ourselves the permanent, like, Good guy protagonist, in the first case, being savvy, yeah, but so don’t you think living a good life is in large measure a matter of
Sam Harris 1:22:37
squeezing the the delta between those two states of mind you think that that’s true? Yeah. It was a leading question. I know.
Eric Weinstein 1:22:44
I know. But I think that it’s actually much more tricky.
Sam Harris 1:22:48
So let’s take the antithesis. What if I told you that I thought it was a matter of getting, broadening that Gulf rights to be more extremely at odds with oneself Depending on what side of the table you’re on, and
Eric Weinstein 1:23:02
I think you would have been less likely to cut in line. But if you did cut in line, I wonder if you’d be less likely to notice it and talk about it the way I do so I think that your morality and my morality differs slightly.
Sam Harris 1:23:14
I don’t think you’re giving me you’re giving us seem to live too much credit. You’re not giving me enough. Oh, is that right? So so I am.
Eric Weinstein 1:23:21
What he was pretty consistent in a lot of ways.
Sam Harris 1:23:23
You know, what I aspire to be is to, to cut in line, the right amount. Okay, and to be appropriately non judgmental when I see someone else cut in line? Well,
Eric Weinstein 1:23:34
I’m pretty close to the Yeah.
Sam Harris 1:23:38
I mean, so I don’t have too many illusions about
what it is to do it and what and but what it is when somebody else does it, so I don’t I’m not as and when I catch it when I I occasionally catch myself in that. That mismatch between you know, who I’m capable of being in one moment and how judgmental I am of somebody else in that Same mode. But what I would say is that noticing
Eric Weinstein 1:24:05
your own sort of issues, makes you a better person, if you can port them more generally. So in other words, if you say, look, I recognize that, you know, I’m not the I’m not the best around food or something.
Unknown Speaker 1:24:21
Eric Weinstein 1:24:22
I’m very conscious in some other area like being timely. Well, if you can recognize somehow somebody else’s failings as a kin to your own in a different area and port that that’s a way in which like being in touch with your own hypocrisy, I think makes you a better person. And I worry about people who are trying to rid themselves of their hypocrisy, rather than first noticing it and then sort of minimizing it. So that is less garish. But yeah, but to be to truly want to minimize it, you have to be in touch with it, right. So that’s how you run those That’s two pieces of software you’re running at the same time. I think it’s more like I don’t see any prospect for ridding myself of it. And other people. So I caught some I have to get rid of it, you know, it’s like it was an imagined state that they could I agree more or less that you can’t live without it. We because you’re not a unitary thing. Right. Like you aren’t a unitary thing. Right. Most of us yeah. Even though we know that we still treat ourselves as unitary things, which is bizarre. Yeah. Well, your your
Sam Harris 1:25:31
work. I work hard not to do that. Yeah.
Eric Weinstein 1:25:33
But But I don’t have an app and I don’t do do these practices. But I’m still very conscious of the fact that I’m not I’m not unitary. Yeah.
Sam Harris 1:25:41
No, that mean that if you follow that a little bit further, that becomes very interesting because you’re not, but that doesn’t mean you there’s not there’s no norm. You want to to aspire to follow, right like you can be there are phases of your mind. You can prefer to others and you can And there’s also something that happens when you’re when you cease to be taken in by your, your different selves and all these different modes right to the normal degree, then you can actually then there’s a kind of freedom to,
to navigate to a to a kind of a happier,
Eric Weinstein 1:26:18
but but there is some way in which what you’re talking about is that one of your parliament of selves is that your meta self, which you’re probably getting as close to identifying with unitarity is anything else.
Sam Harris 1:26:31
Well, it’s just there is in
Eric Weinstein 1:26:35
the morning morning by the sub routines, you would probably call Sam Harris.
Sam Harris 1:26:40
Well, I would it’s it’s more diaphanous and that Milton lasers consciousness and the only thing they can supervise anything is or be aware of anything or experience anything, is what I’m calling consciousness. Now that’s not when you really pay attention to what that’s like. It doesn’t actually answer to the to the name I or me. I mean, it really is just Just as open space in which everything is appearing, including thoughts and intentions and desires and emotions, and there, it really is a cacophony. But the cacophony changes, the more you fall back to this position of just witnessing the show, right? And so
you know, it’s like you’re, you’re
I get that. One analogy that’s actually fairly apropos is the difference between dreaming and lucid dreaming, right? The more you lucid dream, the more you actually can kind of change your dreams. I mean, that’s what it is. Yeah, but like but you’re still you know, there’s a consequence to being lucid and in your and being perpetually lost and thought, being prepared being identify noticing, not noticing thought is thought being identified with every intention that surfaces in the mind is really deeply analogous to be being asleep and dreaming and not knowing you’re dreaming? Well, you’re in a situation you’re not recognized.
Eric Weinstein 1:28:04
Well, it’s interesting because sometimes I can’t actually use the information. So for example, when you went into the don’t we want the best and brightest thing. I thought, oh my god, Sam is gonna drag me there. And that way, he’s the guy who believes Well, no, because because there is no thing called Xena philic restriction ism, which is what most of us are. Certainly I am in my belief structure and the idea that every single news Oregon is ready to call any restriction as a xenophobe I’m thinking oh my god, Sam is dragging me to this place. He doesn’t even know it. And I’ve started to get angry and agitated and excited. And there was nothing I could do to actually I couldn’t find any control knob.
Sam Harris 1:28:48
But so it did come back to to Earth where you know, something more concrete than pure consciousness. The I’m aware of the potential hypocrisy in judging people. So I could take you know, I just kind of shit all over and I seem to let right. I am totally so I don’t believe in free will. Yeah, I know we didn’t invent himself like that there’s a place in which I’m totally non judgmental of him and these, you know, he can’t do otherwise. Right. He’s just he’s just being the perfect version of Nassim Taleb as is Donald Trump, right? Like, that’s just it. And in Trump’s case, the thing that I’m judgmental, I’m not especially judgmental of him, you know, I’m he seems like a malfunctioning robot to me, right? He’s just that what I’m judgmental of is the larger situation of all of this happening and, and half the population seem to be pretending that it’s something optimal about right that’s like that. That’s, that’s so terrifyingly risky to me, that I think it’s appropriate to be in touch with the outrage module. Rather than the non judgmental rolling and nobody invented, nobody created themselves module, and but I pick and choose my moment of outrage, and I get off the ride. As soon as it’s no longer as soon as I noticed there’s no reason to be on it’s no longer adapt. Yeah. So it’s like, how much time am I get? So now like in my use of social media, like I’ll get on Twitter, I’ll see something outrageous. I’ll get triggered by it. But I’ll get off 30 seconds later and it’s over. Right? Whereas if I, if I were to do the thing that entangled me, you know, it could, you know, could take up much more of my life. And
Eric Weinstein 1:30:43
so it’s very interesting to me that you’ve gotten off Twitter as you’ve become more focused on the meditation and mindfulness part of your offering, right.
Sam Harris 1:30:57
I mean, I there’s the juxtaposition there may be somewhat accidental but the, the vividness like it. There’s a spell that’s been broken for me, Okay, back to social media like I, I actually I had paid lip service to this and just didn’t know that it was just lip service but I had been talking about Twitter and Social Media generally as a psychological experiment that we were running ours on ourselves to which no one had consented, right, we just enrolled right half of humanity in this thing, and we’re just, you know, we’ll see what happens. And it’s clearly having effects that are at best non optimal, right, you know, at worst, you know, catastrophic and I would, I was talking about this and thinking in these terms, but still totally embedded in in the activity of taking Twitter seriously and and feeling that it was a professional necessity. And on some of it was just it was just sticky enough, you know, emotionally like this is you know, because I’m getting a lot of my news that way I’m following smart people. I want to see what articles they’re reading. And there’s an opportunity for conversation and then somebody like Nassim Taleb says something, you know, outrageously stupid, that is pretty, you know, you’re directed at me, right? And it goes is going out to hundreds of thousands of people. And so, you know, it’s an opportunity for me to tell them to fuck off. And so I find some way to say that, and this thing begins playing out And to the degree that I’ve stepped away, which is like 95%. Now, when I come back, and I see, you know, some of my friends I see you, you know, embroiled with, you know, you know, Claire layman or somebody and it does look like I’m now in touch with the Do you saw that get diffused, ya know, that and I think the skillful diffusal of those conflicts is its own public good that is I try to maximize
Eric Weinstein 1:32:56
their or diffuse because I don’t think they Want the thing to fuse? Like you got into some? You went on this person nice mangos podcast. Yeah, that would
Sam Harris 1:33:08
talk about a no good deed going on. You know, there’s just some I did my best to launch a podcast
Eric Weinstein 1:33:13
there’s Well, there’s something wrong with that account because there’s many ways in which it seems quite reasonable.
Sam Harris 1:33:18
Yeah, that is rated into mental Oh,
Eric Weinstein 1:33:20
well, there’s a personal there’s a personal nastiness about it that just doesn’t let up. Yeah, and a lack of charity. And what I find is that there are certain things I can do to slow down that kind of negative experience. And then there are certain diehard actors, some of whom are quite polite and charming and funny, who just will not like their thing is they will ride this to the most negative place if they can get there. And that sub community I’ve been talking about in terms of, we have diversity and inclusion, which I’m willing to say is a good thing. And then it needs a different function which is interoperability and exclusion. Because there’s certain people can’t be at the table for a conversation if it’s going to progress. And because their their interest is in derailed and now I got into some weird thing just now. Do you know the singer Billy Bragg?
Unknown Speaker 1:34:19
No know, he’s like a progressive,
Eric Weinstein 1:34:21
you kind of like a punk, Arlo Guthrie or Woody Guthrie rather whatever. Yeah. And like he turns out, he wrote a book and he’s talking about Eric Weinstein, an investment banker who is a free speech, you know, champion won’t meet with some whole he’s got a whole story in his mind.
Sam Harris 1:34:39
And so he took a shot at you in his book. We went on Sam cedars program. There’s a venue that is not going to select for Well, I honest opinions.
Eric Weinstein 1:34:48
I spoke to Sam. Look, there’s a problem with the Sol Alinsky thing where salt you know, so yeah, we’ll try radicals radicals, the focus on ridicule. I think it’s hard to remember like country Joe in the fish was ridiculing a bad war in terms that are ridiculous. You’ve now got a group of people who if a mathematician says you know that in in different arithmetic you could have an equation like two plus three equals one and so then you get somebody saying I don’t know what they’re smoking over there at Princeton, but it well, that’s ridicule but you’re ridiculing something that you straw man did didn’t understand. right because the person actually was making sense and so what I see is that the left and in particularly the SAM cedar crowd, has a doing that with abandon what it’s willing to do two separate things Sam is quite willing like there’s this whole thing but we’ve talked to Sam cedar Will you debate Sam cedar and my feeling is I would debate part of Sam cedar, the part that just is focused on the ideas but the part that is coming Kind of like nasty and Riddick in ridiculing and doing the Alinsky thing I don’t know what to do with it I’m not interested I’ve spoken to Sam cedar on the phone it’s perfectly reasonable made sense to me we disagreed on on positions but
Sam Harris 1:36:15
but the line that gets crossed for me always with these guys and again, it’s it’s disproportionately on the left is the line of conscious dishonesty. Is it serious? Your brother’s aphorism bad faith changes, everything changes everything. And even these guys are in bad faith. They know they’re lying about, in my case, my views, my actual beliefs. And not all of them, though, that there’s just too much information. David Pakman. No, David Pakman is fine. I just did his podcast.
Eric Weinstein 1:36:47
Yeah, I know. But David Pakman said some pretty non charitable things and some parts that seemed kind of ridiculing.
Sam Harris 1:36:55
Thank you, me. Other people. I haven’t whatever. I haven’t. I have never seen him misrepresenting my views. And I think that made I again, I don’t know, I just did his podcast once, but he seems like he seems like somebody who if I said, Listen, you got me wrong here, that would matter. And he would he would make an effort to
Eric Weinstein 1:37:14
me and not get me right, which is the problem that we have increasingly is that the tactics that are being used in what are called progressive circles have been confused with the content. So that is the objection to the vehicle, which might be solid skis Rules for Radicals
Sam Harris 1:37:37
which is a totally unethical program for smearing people dishonestly.
Unknown Speaker 1:37:44
Well, like you think you think,
Sam Harris 1:37:47
Well, no, it’s no it’s you’re just it’s an ends justify the means. That’s the big problem on the left. Yeah. So but that that ethic is is flawed, right. So like, so for instance, I mean, like with me And Trump like, there’s nobody who you don’t like denigrates Trump as avidly as I do, but I am super careful to be honest. Right so like I it’s not that you can anything you can smear him with his fair because you can be saying, I mean, the problem with all these guys can be Sam cedar can be honest on a show and still have a show. Right? Nobody’s going to cancel him because he was too honest.
Eric Weinstein 1:38:23
No, I think that there’s like this very weird other. I mean, say I don’t want to get into the SAM cedar thing in particular, first of all, because you couldn’t do an entire show. We know you’re upset.
Sam Harris 1:38:32
But we’ll take these quotations. No, but he
Eric Weinstein 1:38:35
he had. See he has Pac man’s ability to reason,
Sam Harris 1:38:41
I guess is the banality of evil. Right like there’s not that many evil people, right? There’s just a lot of people who are functioning in some normal mode with with with normal incentives. And they become assholes because they’re not heroes. Right? But so like it takes some work, not to be an asshole when you are incentivized to be one And we’re all vulnerable to this. But there’s some people who have just cashed in for
Eric Weinstein 1:39:06
that nonsense on the left makes me crazy, because in part, it just feels like all of my ideals turned into some piece
Sam Harris 1:39:13
of Yeah, route that were of the left. Not only the left, man, I came from a farther left part that I don’t even I don’t even know where you started. But yeah, no, I, I’ve never been tempted to be anything other than a Democrat. I’ve never even said, I’m going to be an independent because, you know,
Eric Weinstein 1:39:28
the Democratic Party. Certainly, if I could, if I could, if I could move to another party that made sense. I’d do it. Yeah, yeah. Anyway, I think that what they I think that what we don’t really understand is that there’s a homelessness problem that is really significant. If you are the sort of a person who needs to attach to some kind of institutional structure. In a time when there is no institution that actually holds your perspective. You’re going to start to do very bizarre things. Now the thing that about you and and me is is that to some degree And I don’t think we can do this long term. We’re okay with being homeless. Right You can you wrote a first principles, try to think your way out of stuff. But it was very tough for most people. And I think that there is there are these sort of collection points in the adaptive landscape of politics. would you would you would disagree with that.
Sam Harris 1:40:21
Yeah. Well, one thing that seems important is the connection to science. I mean, we’re not spending a lot of time talking about science in this mode, but the the, the dispassion and self criticism, that is the like, is the only rubric under which real science can be done bleeds into our thinking about all these other issues. Yeah, I think that’s, that’s got to be relevant variable. This is like it like you either have a scientific cast of mind or you don’t and when you don’t have both, right, but when you when you don’t You’re seeing you’re not seeing the I mean, just not even you’re not even seen intellectual dishonesty for what it is. Right? It just it’s just like, like motivated reasoning is isn’t a bad thing, right? wishful thinking isn’t a bad thing. Confirmation bias isn’t a bad thing. These are virtues This is in religion. Well, it’s faith. Right? This is this is, you know,
Eric Weinstein 1:41:21
well, this is like always the issue is with our friend Jordan Peterson, which is that when he gets really far out there and the people called mythopoetic, I don’t know the lingo. Yeah. You always wonder, are you still maintaining a fact checking ability to bring you back to earth and so as long as those two facilities are present, and in dialogue, and as long as the fact checking, you know, what we what we call the scientific method is in some sense, inadequate to me to explain how science has progressed, all the Mad thinking and then the spirituality of coming up with great new ground doesn’t give us Rama Nugent about an hour ago. Yeah, so he’s he’s having dreams about the Goddess Lakshmi handed him theorems. Well, there’s there’s that, you know, the Kerala School of astronomy that came up with infinite series before Newton and live nets, was doing it in religious poetry. You know, it rhymed, I think it over there in Kerala. So there is a there is a kind of madness that you have to invite to break new ground. And there’s a kind of sanity that you have to invite to wrestle with the madness. And our friend, Dan barkay, came up with this idea that science is a two front war, but most people are have only been deployed to one front. And I think that that’s a really, that’s a really nice image. I do worry that in part, the activist mindset, particularly on the left has a very clear idea, which is that yeah, it’s really a shame the number of people have to get hurt for justice to be done. And that is a highly conserved idea that I had not ended. stood was was broadly distributed Yeah,
Sam Harris 1:43:02
but I mean that that is a an ethic or a pseudo ethic that we have to just relentlessly criticize because it’s so much harm gets done I mean that that is the the thinking that allows good people or otherwise good people to create immense harm cyclists yeah throw throw them off the rooftops because a you know, the purge is on and it’s sorry, we have to break these many eggs like this omelet. But partially The question is how do we spend enough time together to get past this problem? Like I really think it’s quite serious that part of it is is that we’re not actually doing much of this face to face right like I’ve never met Nasim. I’ve never met Sam cedar I’ve never met him.
They shouldn’t have been in the same sentence a very different problems. But
if if I had if before any of this had happened, so Sam cedar I think has done probably a dozen shows or I mean I’m always getting Hit someone’s always sending me a video that he’s made that you know, I don’t watch by log the fact that there’s a yet another export from his world where he’s he’s attacked me the if I had had lunch with him before any of this ever he ever took an interest in me there might have been a very different well x y column is the fact we’ve never you know we there’s there’s a y anchor disability and you you know you see him as a friend of yours so you have a there’s a kind of a loyalty effect or just a fact you know, you you have a different relationship to his flaws, knowing him as a person. And I the same things happen to me like the fact that I’ve hung out with Jordan, or Ben Shapiro, we saw what happened with Claire, let’s talk let’s talk about the Claire situation. Okay, that would have been different had you never hung out with Claire, or it might have been different?
Eric Weinstein 1:44:48
No, I think there was a more serious issue and it just
Sam Harris 1:44:51
didn’t. Well, the flipping around it. It was more of a betrayal, you know, or seeming betrayal given the fact that you had hung out together.
It wasn’t just
Eric Weinstein 1:45:02
coming over the transfer trail in part was was my betrayal of Claire. I just didn’t know it.
Sam Harris 1:45:09
Well, whatever I’m just saying though no change if you know each other at any time to make a different point,
Eric Weinstein 1:45:14
right, when somebody you know, behaves in a way that is very most unexpected. Right? What I try to do is I try to slow it down. I say, I bet we’re watching two different movies. Yeah. And your story and my story are not the gears are not lining up. And so if we just push on the gears, the teeth are gonna pop off and it’ll be the end of everything. And so with Claire, what I tried to figure out is, why are you repeatedly sort of coming at, you know, do you need to burnish your credentials that you’re objective that you don’t have? tribalist loyalty, that was one set of issues. There’s another issue which is that nasima gone after Claire and I was silent and didn’t want to get involved in it. I didn’t like the way in the scene was going about doing what he was doing. Absolutely couldn’t couldn’t take it. didn’t like it. detest it. On the other hand, I have a particular bug in my bonnet about IQ and race, which is that I, I think it’s an absolutely dangerous topic that’s being explored in a really bad way, even by good people. Right? And that, in part, IQ has this curse that I’ve said it’s a pretty good measure of intelligence, it would be much better if it was obviously terrible or really terrific. But it’s in exactly the wrong place that it does tell us something about intelligence and not nearly enough so you can be a genius with low IQ. Right, that problem, you know, was being teased out and neither of them The reason I stayed out of is just I didn’t believe in Claire’s position as I understood it, and I didn’t believe in the seams tactics as I understood them. And Claire interpreted that I think and I don’t know this to be true, as well. You know, you’re seeing me getting mauled. Right, and I thought you would be there you know, or something. Like that, and so, in part, just backing up everything slowing it down trying to listen. You know, Ben and I have gotten sideways a few a few times. To his credit every time I take something to Ben Shapiro, he’ll think better of himself and I’ll
Sam Harris 1:47:16
yeah. And that that’s my experience as well.
Eric Weinstein 1:47:21
Even though I account for
Sam Harris 1:47:22
a lot of his business, yeah, no, that counts for a lot. So so the the place where we’ve we’ve reached some kind of bad faith singularity, right? is where I think, okay, there’s like, we just have to cut our losses. There’s no conversation, like, that’s why I would never talk to Sam cedar in a public forum. He’s He’s proven himself. so committed to the singularity. I mean, he’s like, there’s a bunch of I can, there’s maybe 20 people who are just on this part of the landscape where there’s no coming back from it. I mean, that’s coming. Obviously, there’s the appropriate at the end. conversation that would have to happen would have to begin with an actual apology. Like it’s just so bad. There’s no alternate movie version. That’s exculpatory, right? These people know they’re lying. They’re avidly line. It’s all malicious. It’s all it’s all Saul Alinsky. It’s all just smears. Well,
Eric Weinstein 1:48:19
it is all it is solid escape, but look, the best that can be said for it again, I don’t get along with it. Right is I believe that they think that they’re in desperate times, and they believe that desperate times call for desperate measures. And that’s sort of the mindset which is the ridicule is necessary to stop a greater evil. And that entitlement as soon as you start experiment,
Sam Harris 1:48:39
but ridicule ridicule is not the problem. It’s the line. That’s the problem is you can if you honestly,
Eric Weinstein 1:48:46
it’s expected it’s probably watched 45 minutes of Sam cedar total.
Sam Harris 1:48:50
Yes, that’s more than I’ve watched. But I’ve watched enough to know that these are people who, when they’re trafficking in audio of my podcast that’s been edited. Traffic, yet it just show the opposite of what I was saying. And they get 1000 blistering comments telling them, right this, they keep the audio up, or they they don’t want to be correct in air. I agree. But that’s what it’s coming at. That’s psychopathic behavior. You know, it’s like, well, so whether or not they’re psychopaths, they’re acting.
Eric Weinstein 1:49:18
Alright. But then we’ve got a giant chunk of our world and then Part A lot, a lot of the sense making apparatus that is explicitly amongst itself psychopathic, it believes that it is under threat and desperate times and desperate times call for desperate measures. This is its opportunity. And it’s going to do things it’s gonna be the thing that I didn’t understand about it because I came from the left is is that it just explicitly thinks in? That’s too bad. Right? Oh, I’ll get you a Kleenex next. It’s just this dead cold heartedness. That progress requires that good people get hurt. boohoo. And that thing is so hardcore. That’s going to make them That makes the trumpian backlash understandable. And that’s, and that’s really in part, what I’m trying to get at, which is that when I went to Washington in like 1996, on the immigration issues, I went into some staffers like some Warren of cubicles. And I saw the sign on one of the cubicles That said, if it’s worth fighting for, it’s worth fighting dirty for. And I came to understand that if you wanted to survive and thrive and get stuff done in Washington, that that had been absorbed almost universally, right? And then once I realized that I had to make a decision, do I really want to get good things done? Or did I want to stay person I could live with. And that’s very painful to actually have to think about.
Sam Harris 1:50:45
Yeah, but I think that is an easy choice, or should should be we want to make we want to create a world where that’s an easy choice.
Eric Weinstein 1:50:52
We want to create a world in which that’s an easy choice. What we’ve created is a system of selective pressures, which may actually end up selecting for that over and over Again, you don’t realize and this is the this is the issue. The reason that so many of these things make me angry like the the great moderation, or the abuse of the immigration system to decrease wages, and then you cry xenophobia when somebody points it out, or NAFTA and a lot large areas of the country get really hurt. And you’re saying everybody’s going to be made better off is that all of these things I can see in real time. Like right now what I can see like those things of the past is I can see this weird and this is getting back to the Jeff Epstein thing. There is a deliberate attempt not to talk about the intelligence community and it’s linked to Jeffrey Epstein. And it is clear, and it’s a very short proof, because assume that he had no links to the intelligence community like none whatsoever. Matt, somehow a member of the Trilateral Commission, affiliated with Rockefeller University, Harvard, no links to any intelligence community anywhere in the world. You could sell papers debunking The claims that people want to know, which is how is this guy tied in with the intelligence community?
Sam Harris 1:52:06
Right, Suzanne, it’s fishy that no one’s doing that.
Eric Weinstein 1:52:08
Well. I mean, it’s beyond fishy. In other words, you have something that everybody is demanding and wants. If it weren’t true, hmm, you could get paid by showing that it’s not true or making the best argument possible or making fun of how thin the claims are. Well, that may yet happen. I mean, I get again, I don’t know that somebody isn’t writing the 5000 word Atlantic article on Epstein is going to answer to how long has it been this guy supposedly commit suicide? We don’t know whether you know what branch of the decision tree that’s on. And you can search go to the New York Times and search on intelligence. The thing is an Epstein like, it’s not being explored. It’s not being shut down. It’s like anechoic tiles in your Echo locate it’s not what you’re hearing. Go to the search bar and Search for things that people are discussing that don’t come up. And that’s what’s telling you that there’s something very I mean, this guy was a, apparently a serious sexual predator. We’re in the era of me too. Right.
Sam Harris 1:53:14
But there are anomalies like that. I mean, the, the clear anomaly for me was, and it’s one for which I don’t have any sinister explanation. I just think it’s an anomaly of the news cycle we’re in, right, sort of what Trump has done to our our information diet. When the Las Vegas shooting, you know, perpetrated by a man whose name I don’t even know, right, and I’m kind of a student of these things. But I never even took the time to learn the guy’s name. I think we, you know, many press reports. Did that has it decided to not use his name? No, but this was the biggest shooting in American history. Right? Right. And 48 hours later, nobody was talking about it. Wasn’t that’s not true verb for that’s like, it was It had fallen out of the new Siberian leather never go back
Eric Weinstein 1:54:02
and it vanished very quickly.
Sam Harris 1:54:04
But there you I don’t think there’s any reason why it vanished apart from the fact that we just don’t have the bandwidth for it anymore like that there was no, there was no link that made it clearly ideological mean that nothing surface II wasn’t a clear white supremacy history wasn’t a jihadist. I mean, there was no room there were bumps stuck. Yeah, yeah. So the bumps die, though.
Eric Weinstein 1:54:23
So why were we talking about bumps?
Sam Harris 1:54:24
Yeah, so we ban bump stocks as a result of that thing. And that’s the that’s the legacy of that, that atrocity. But if you had told me at any point beforehand, that you know, on, you know, whatever day of the week it was you’re going to have a the biggest mass shooting in American history, by far, and it was going to be a fairly cinematic one. Right. And it’s like, you’re talking about shooting out from the windows of
Eric Weinstein 1:54:52
Did you see Dan bilzerian was at this thing?
Sam Harris 1:54:55
Oh, no, no, I think I
Eric Weinstein 1:54:57
Dan bilzerian running out of things. No saying like, we’re under fire, I’m gonna go get my gun. And, you know, he’s like, he’s doing it in real time.
Sam Harris 1:55:04
If you told me we’re not going to be talking about this A week later, right? That just wouldn’t compute. But that’s that is that the situation we’re in? I mean, somehow it just didn’t survive the Darwinian contest with whatever else was on social media,
Eric Weinstein 1:55:20
I really think that that’s what happens. So and why aren’t we talking about? Well, that’s that’s saying, like, and you’re starting to smile? No, this is the thing that conspiracy theorists get dead dead wrong, which is you are allowed to notice some very weird anomaly and not have to say what it is you’re noticing. Right?
Unknown Speaker 1:55:41
Eric Weinstein 1:55:42
so my claim, like,
Sam Harris 1:55:44
Look, wait, wait, but you don’t buy my explanation, which is because there was not a immediate purchase on a larger story of motive. And this guy, you know, it was just not a lot of information came out about this guy that was salient. It just were so good. Lose by other stuff yet most of it trumpian bricked your neck.
Eric Weinstein 1:56:03
You’re not correct. In my opinion.
Sam Harris 1:56:04
I was interesting. So well the way I would say it, but whoever’s right or wrong, I’m just saying that this belief that I had now have that we have we have a different relationship to information now in agree that we’re cycling through the hands very quickly. But yeah, that was a spectacular. There’s a reason we’re talking. It was amazing.
Eric Weinstein 1:56:22
Yeah. Because it’s anomalously weird how fast that story disappeared. Oh, yeah. Now, one of the things that you we have to we have to talk about in that in that realm, is Dana Boyd and her discussion of strategic silence. So that’s your search string people playing along at home. Strategic silence is a doctrine of some kind that says that news media should not report the news because of its potential impact. And where was this articulated? You should check out data and society which is a particularly interesting organization which things To our friends as the alternative influencer network. All right. And Dana Boyd, who I believe is sort of in our circles in the tech circles, starts talking about the need for strategic silence a girl Danna or a boy. Danna the female. Okay. Somebody I can receive the female. Yeah. I now don’t want to touch. Okay. A human named Dana Boyd right. Um, and strategic silence. And she also talks about data gaps. If I’m not mistaken. I have my terminology. Right. And so then you have to look at things like style guides, like the AP style guide, or New York Times Style Guide, which is the way in which people are directed to report news stories. Is there a danger of copycat killings? So there may be a body of thought around what does one do around mass shootings so that we don’t have future mass shootings or if this is particularly exciting to certain people Should we publish the manifesto? So as you start to understand what the meta rules around these things are, some of those could be innocent.
Sam Harris 1:58:08
I think I think there’s some are better than innocent. I think some are benign and we’ve been slow to adopt them i think i think i think the fact that I don’t know this guy’s name is probably a good thing for the world and that was that was part of the style new style guide. You just don’t think you read the New Zealand shooters manifesto? No, but I part of it, but yeah, I haven’t. I haven’t read. Okay. golfing. No.
Eric Weinstein 1:58:32
So that but like, what I don’t want is I don’t want somebody saying we should not read. We should criminalize reading the New Zealand shooters Manifesto. But by the way, let me tell you, he told he told us all that Candace Owens was his inspiration. Right? Because that’s not what the shooter did.
Sam Harris 1:58:51
So now we will no one wants to criminalize I’m just saying that you know, if say something more disturbing, it’s appropriate for the for journalists to worry that Merely shining a light push up pointing a camera at this new atrocity is the the should be that the default setting, right like name the guy, let’s get into his story. Let’s find out why he did it and
Eric Weinstein 1:59:16
do all this public we’re in such a much more dangerous place in my opinion
Sam Harris 1:59:20
and I but no about maybe we’re talking past each other here. It’s just that it is we’ve been very slow to realize that the part of the the mimetic contagion here is the copycat effect that the fact that people in their own perverse way, these people are being martyred and lionized just by just the mere sharing of this place about read that in a better world.
Eric Weinstein 1:59:46
We would have a situation by which we would not want to communicate,
Sam Harris 1:59:52
relatively people famous we don’t.
There’s fame as part of the motive, right posthumous fame, even It’s part of the motive. So as if it even if it’s not part of the motive, it’s part of what is attractive to the living, aspiring gunman.
Eric Weinstein 2:00:11
First of all, let me steal me in your position, make sure I’m getting it and then I can take issue with you and you will see whether I’m okay adding or subtracting. Right? I think what you’re saying is, is that because of the information quality, and the fame, quality and the inspirational quality to copycat killers, that communicating the information that somebody wish to communicate, provided they’re willing to make a down payment and in terms of dead bodies taken, you know, lives taken out of this world.
Sam Harris 2:00:43
I’m not even focused on the manifesto. I’m focused on just just naming the person. Okay, you know,
Eric Weinstein 2:00:48
you’re sympathetic at some level with the concept of strategic silence. Yeah, I would be sympathetic with the concept of strategic silence. If I trusted the people Who are supposed to manage it, but that’s trying to get to the next
Sam Harris 2:01:02
layer? I understand that concern. I am very concerned that the people who are enthusiastic about strategic silence, are interested in telling us partial information about all of these things, so that we cannot actually tell what the hell just happened. Well, yeah, so you just change the topic to jihadism. And we’re perfectly in agreement because yes, they will allied the religious identity of perpetrators in various contexts, and actually hide information from us, right. So they’ll direct you’ll you’ll see that you’ll see something happened. It’ll the media will pretend it’s inexplicable, right, like the end of the Orlando shooting, like maybe this guy was just, it was his repressed homosexuality. It was that was the problem, right? And yet, those who have a little bit of information recognize that this is a clear cut case of jihadism, and indoctrination and a spread and the consequences of certain ideas and the analogous situation on the other It would be, what if we were going to systematically conceal evidence of you know, you know, white supremacy being the motive for a cert. But
Eric Weinstein 2:02:09
what I’m trying to say is that in all of these killings like you just pointed out that the unabomber, you read reread the unabomber Manifesto. Right now the unabomber wrote a story called ship of fools, which I thought was relatively interesting about people losing their heads in social justice and society.
Sam Harris 2:02:29
Some of that in the manifesto too. Yep. He’s He’s very
Eric Weinstein 2:02:32
critical of not a lot of man. Yeah, I know that Kaczynski guy. Yeah. However, the point was, is that you were able to mine that for information, and then you were able to reach some pretty interesting conclusions about where Kaczynski was relative to society in general. You trusted yourself, right? Okay. My guess is that when it comes to jihad is you are more interested in communicating the information about what The motivational structure is because it is prescriptive that something might be done. However,
Sam Harris 2:03:06
well actually there’s another reason is it’s it’s not just that it’s prescriptive, it may not be. It’s just that is it. They’re more there’s more contact between they’re more levers to play with to try to control.
Eric Weinstein 2:03:22
It’s a much larger problem. No kidding, right. But on the other hand, if I look at the New Zealand shooters and the squirrel Hill shooters, manifestos, right, it’s disgusting. And it has content. Yeah. And, you know, the way in which I can explain to people how all of the open border type stuff is going to cause future problems is just to say, you may not think of a country the way I I do or somebody else but imagine that somebody comes to your home as a guest, and you give them the key and they say, I hope you don’t mind, but I notice that there were a lot of people on Skid Row today, who didn’t have anything to eat no place to sleep. So I ran off 2000 copies of of your key. And I hope we can adopt all those people when they come over later tonight, because I gave him the address and the security code. Now if that starts to rattle around in your brain, you know, feel good about it. You may not conceive of your country, as a house with a with a front door and a security code and rules as to who gets in and out. But they do. And some of those people are going to go crazy, and they’re going to kill people. And I know that to be the case. And it’s not that I’m sympathetic with a synagogue shooter or a mosque killer. Fuck those guys. The point is, is that we are not trying to get the information because we have this class of people this intermediating class that I don’t trust as far as I can throw them in that you still have more residual trust in. In other words, my feeling about data and society is that I understand it. All sorts of things that they’re trying to do. But they’re super dangerous. They are incredibly dangerous, in part, because they’re going to be backed by people like Bill and Melinda Gates.
Sam Harris 2:05:09
Yeah. Or the Ford Foundation or whatever it is. This is the Southern Poverty Law Center problem. Exactly. And other guys. Yeah. So it’s, you know, I think you and I’ve been talking past each other a little bit here. All right. I totally agree that in this case, we can’t really trust the gatekeepers. What that the only thing that I was expressing open up open mindedness about or agreement about with respect to strategic silence is there is this you know, we want to do strategic silent sale. Well, in some ways, there’s it’s impossible. It’s like it take it out of the drawer. I know that Yeah. But like, but there’s the atrocity side of it, which is its own thing, but just take a take the the, the, the case of famous suicides, right, we know that suicide is contagious, right. And then You know, this has a name that the birther effect, you know, based on Gupta’s novel the sorrows of young brother. So there there’s the fact that a significantly sufficiently prominent person who’s got any kind of especially and this is true, I think, for any suicide, but especially if there’s some sort of Byronic, you know, romantic loss they can put on it, you know, suicides go up and suicides go up in ways that are, you know, hurt by plane crashes go up, right. And we believe, you know, I don’t know if the data has changed on this. But as of you know, 20 years ago, or whenever this was done, I think this was in
might have been in in called Dinis book influence.
The plane crashes go up, and the interpretation of that is that some number of airline pilots commit suicide with everyone on board. Right. You know that. I mean, we know that’s happened before. There’s one famous case of that but yeah, but You know, it just added the statistics that seems to be suggested. But so what do you do when Anthony Bourdain commit suicide? How do you cover that story? There’s, there has to be some style guide around how you cover it. And it’s not. And at one point, it could look like an unwillingness to actually get at the truth. But what’s your what, what’s what’s actually motivating you is not an unwillingness to get to the truth. It’s just, you’re, you’re aware of the potential contagion effect here, depending on what the actual story
Eric Weinstein 2:07:35
is. So I can’t figure out where our energy differs. I agree with you that in theory, strategic silence, like don’t publicize things where the benefit is very slight, right? And the cost is enormous. I get it. But right now, we’re in some different place, which is that a lot of us, I mean, just don’t trust any of the gatekeepers, like there’s not one gate. keeper, that I want making that decision for me at the moment. And, you know, in particular, it’s very weird that I like I get the concept, Dana, but I don’t trust you because you came out with this alternative influencer network thing. I had zero methodology on it. So you’re volunteers all
Sam Harris 2:08:19
guilt by association. And it’s a and
Eric Weinstein 2:08:21
you know, Noam Chomsky talks to Stefan Molyneux, and he’s not included, right. It’s total nonsense. And the person who wrote it has been revealing herself as a complete activist rather than a researcher. Right. So there’s total breakdown on that thing. What I’m confused by is the more of this kind of shielding that we have, the more likely we’re going to have four more years of Donald Trump and I can only imagine what’s going to happen after an eight year Trump presidency, are we going to move to the next level of really unexpected candidate? Yeah, we’ve got to realize that we’re making out for the most shocking Rose ceremony ever. We’ve got to realize that what we’re doing is we’re making people crazy because they can see that it’s The Truman Show. Yeah. So if we had a discussion where we like, have you heard strategic silence before?
Sam Harris 2:09:14
I think, for me, I know Yeah, I think I’d heard the phrase but but I thought
Eric Weinstein 2:09:18
the national discussion and coming to a national consensus about this or we’re going to use strategic silence when it’s jihadi violence, right, and we’re not going to use it.
Sam Harris 2:09:30
When it’s white supremacist violence,
Eric Weinstein 2:09:31
yeah, in a different way. We’re going to leak particular information, provided it goes this way. Not that way. That’s what’s going to cause an infinite series
Sam Harris 2:09:39
Trump Yeah, well, yeah. And more importantly for this topic, I think it’s it’s imperative that we understand what what is actually going on and what why people are doing, what they’re doing, and what the what the, the, the scale of the relative risks are, and just how big a problem is my last podcast What I haven’t released yet is on this topic just talking to someone who’s written a history of white supremacy and white power in the US. And I was trying to get a handle on how big a problem it is. And I and I came away from that podcast convinced more or less that nobody knows how big a problem it is, right? So but there’s, there’s a, there’s a, in this particular space, there’s the possibility of conflating the the new mimetics of 4chan and h n, where you have insell teenagers trapped in, in, in Holocaust imagery, and you know, and lynching photos exactly right, just to get a rise out of the normies. Right, where it’s not actually the the ideological software program that we’re worried about when we’re worried about the KKK and neo nazis and their sincere attempt to
Eric Weinstein 2:10:51
Well, there’s that there’s a coup in the US, right, I agree with that. And then we also have this very different situation in which we have a problem on the left Where I don’t think that the left is is yet as the same propensity for violence that the KKK style white supremacy has had, right? But it’s been totally normalized this far left woke destruction of the basic ability to think inside of the sense making organs, whereas there’s no normalization of Stormfront. Right. And people are going to try to say that the President, you know, is the normalization of that. And I agree that a lot of problems with the presidency, but I don’t think that that’s Stormfront. And so in that picture, I think what I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion of surrounds the idea that we’re trying to have very low resolution conversations, which is what the baby boomers and the traditional media taught us to do. We have these very small sound bites. And do you think the left is worse than the right? Are you kidding me? Well, there’s no way to square that because it’s multivariate. It depends which way you compressed worse or better to say which thing actually, do you talk about potential energy? Are you talking about realized energy?
Sam Harris 2:12:08
Yeah. And also, there’s just the fringe is not the same, it’s not the same thickness on the far left and the far right like that the far the far left fringe has much more of effect and much more effect on the mainstream than the far right fringe does. I mean, the far left fringe has affected how the New York Times does its thing and how tech and how it and, you know, you don’t have if we had members of the KKK, determining what gets published on the opinion page in the New York Times, right? That would be the analogous problem. Right? And that’s
Eric Weinstein 2:12:48
it. We don’t see it. We don’t see it though, and we can’t discuss it in my opinion, because of the the key thing that we were supposed to do with long form stuff is to raise the level of resolution possible in the discussion, we didn’t push out enough terminology enough sort of new patterns of thinking, and that’s the work left to be done.
Sam Harris 2:13:07
Can I ask you one or two last questions? And then you’re now at war with the capacity of a human bladder. So
Eric Weinstein 2:13:13
is that right that that’s the ultimate gatekeeper? So this is like sort of a personal question. And it has to do with the fact that I know you’ve reviewed some of the episodes of the show that you’ve been partially responsible for helping birth. Do you have any feedback for me? as to what’s worked? What hasn’t? I can sort of talk to you a little bit about where I’m thinking about taking the show. And are you happy with it or what would you like to see from the portal? I have not heard this from anybody
Sam Harris 2:13:44
else. Yeah, no, I’m just I’m incredibly happy you’re doing it. I think it’s, you’re the right man for the job. So you should be onto the set. You should be. I’m just you know, it’s about time. Right? Like I’ve been way I’ve been nudging
Eric Weinstein 2:13:59
you do you have an idea? But like, it’s a little bit intimidating to, you know, for some reason I broke into this sort of top echelon of people, enormous audiences and really professional content. So it’s,
Sam Harris 2:14:11
you know, but what i what i think you’re doing is
novel in that.
Unknown Speaker 2:14:22
Why? So, you
Sam Harris 2:14:25
know, you only have so much control over what you get, because you don’t, the other person has to show up, and you’re not quite sure, in many cases, what they’re going to bring. But like in your case, you had a conversation with David Wolpe right, who I’ve debated several times, both in public and in private. And you had a great conversation with him. Right. So you had a very good a much better conversation with him than I’ve ever had with it’s not fair. Well, it is fair. No, no, no, it’s not heavy. No, because that conversation wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t observed your conversations. Okay. So have watched but I’ve observed my conversations with him. And I guarantee you the next conversation I have with him Yeah, will still be worse than the conversation you had with him. Right? Because Because I’m going to feel like I need to fight certain battles, right? Like I’m not going to let him get away with certain things which you are right to let him get away with one because you honestly feel like you’re not you don’t occupy precisely my position with respect to those points so that you’re not being dishonest, you just see it differently. But to you also are trying to have a different conversation and you’re not trying to pressure test all of his ideas you know about God, whenever they surface, you, although you did go in that direction a little bit. You were actually trying to have a conversation about the richness of Judaism without coming in with my agenda, which is clearly we have to get past this parochial you know balkanization of our of humanity. Based on these, you know, Iron Age philosophies, right, we have to find some new, modern, non sectarian equivalent to everything we think we care about in religion. That’s not your game. And because it’s not your game, you had a much better experience of David Wolpe than I get. So that’s in conjecture that there was more there.
Eric Weinstein 2:16:20
Yeah, you know, in part born out? Well, it was born from watching you guys interact and figuring that. In fact, I don’t think David was particularly attached to the rigid interpretation of the text in a literal sense, nor even to the concept of an anthropomorphic like deity.
Sam Harris 2:16:40
Oh, yeah, I know. He’s not and I mean, the first time I debated him, maybe it was the second time with hitch in one of the middle one of those debates. I was sort of blindsided by his lack of commitment to to a personal deity because I said something that presuppose That he believed in a God that could hear our prayers. And he said, Why would I believe that? What makes you think I believe in a God who can hear prayers? Right? And you know, he’s a conservative rabbi. So this is you know, this is a this was a surprise to me. But anyway, I’ve I’ve changed my view of what what to expect there as a result of that. But still, there are things he would say, that would get me bogged down in the way that I got bogged down with Jordan Peterson in our first podcast where there’d be a debate a two hour conversation about the nature of truth, right. And so with Jordan, I had to decide, okay, because we’ve just put a bunch of live events on the calendar and we need to find a way to have a, an enjoyable conversation in addition to disagreeing where we’re going to disagree. I have to there has to be a different geometry to it here. It just can’t always just, you know, dive straight to the, you know, the, into the true basin of attraction which is, you know, what Let’s figure out exactly what you mean. Because I smell something fishy. Right? So, but so I thought it was great. Your conversation with David and I really enjoyed I learned a lot. You know, it’s like I learned stuff from him that I wouldn’t learn. Had I been having the conversation because I would have had, I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Thank you. Yeah. So so I know, I think what you’re doing here is bound to be super unique, because you’re
Eric Weinstein 2:18:26
I mean, you’re not in New York. You’re a real polymath doing this. And they’re not a lot of people who are doing podcasts with the same kind of wealth of information you have on so many fronts. So I, I’m flattered, and I really appreciate what you’re saying. The odd thing is, is that it’s not really supposed to be an interview show. Hmm. And we’ve done a bunch of interviews, in part. You know, Joe said something Joe Rogan said something to me early on, he said, Look at my earliest podcasts, he’s like, stop worrying about whether it’s perfect. I was just clowning around with my friends with a webcam. And I went back to the original Joe Rogan experiences and you’re not kidding, I haven’t done that, oh, you’ll enjoy it. The problem is, is that people are really angry about everything that happens as I’m beginning. It’s like, you know, what, why why is the glass on the edge of the table and you know, the the plosives are too loud and you know that there’s like a lot of stuff that is there, there is no introductory period because weirdly, this thing was discussed on the Rogan program and so it right viewed on Apple because of their ridiculous algorithm. Number one 800,000 podcasts when you were number one, exactly, which I’ve never been remotely close to since and even though the podcast has grown in listenership. So partially what’s happening is that we’re just trying to find the format and to get comfortable with the idea but a lot of what it’s supposed to do is to go into intellectual territory that isn’t based on an interview with a guest to see whether or not We can bring an enormous number of people closer to the most transcendent, solid intellectual achievement that is on offer. Because in general, it feels to me like there’s this monastery where all the good stuff is kept. And almost nobody ever visits or reads any of it. Right. And
Sam Harris 2:20:22
so you’re saying, you’re speaking specifically of your wheelhouse of physics? No, or just anything that interests you that by all means music, okay. Yep, it’s language, but it’s just to make sure that I understand what you’re saying. You’re saying that you’re envisioning many podcasts being just you and a whiteboard or something where you’re some kind of
Eric Weinstein 2:20:43
graphics. So I think graphics are going to be important, right? I think they’re going to be some difficult topics that are going to be pretty heavy going intellectually, that I’m going to try to make as easy as I can. But to partially leverage the fact that you And this is kind of a theme running below the surface, which occasionally like magma comes up through through the crust. Because it was so difficult for me to understand anything that was going on in my junior high school in high school years because of symbolic issues and learning, learning style differences. A lot of what happened was that I was able to put things together out of sheer necessity without going through the symbolic channel. And it’s my belief that even if people don’t see themselves, like, let’s say, learning disabled, that the symbolic channel is where we get stuck, that most people if you show them a page of equations, they tune out. Right? And it’s very difficult to figure out what can you communicate that isn’t an analogy, but that actually gets people to an understanding of sort of the just the majesty of human intellectual achievement and so the hope is going to be that if we can get some some decent production values and get the Add models to work that we can start experimenting with some sort of hybrid, graphical and discussion and solo and be great.
Sam Harris 2:22:11
Yeah. Yeah. And and I think you should explore it’d be fascinating for you to explore the the alternative learn learning paradigm learning disability question. I mean, people would find that incredibly useful and inspiring if you if you if you if there was something there to explore that would be especially if it would be actionable on the basis of, well, the thing that parents are,
Eric Weinstein 2:22:36
or so many teenagers, you know, like, I can’t tell you how much hopelessness I purchased in my parents. Because no matter what I tried to do, nothing worked. And I know that that experience of bright interested kid who just can’t buy a bass hit in school is duplicated, probably 15 20% of the households in America. It’s like an enormous Unknown population. What my hope is is to show people why the sort of learning disabled or dyslexic mind might have superpowers, do you actually have a diagnosis of dyslexia? dyslexia? dysgraphia, is something called kinesthetic reinforcement. You know, people haven’t did did you get these as a teenager? Or is it something things were in their infancy back then there were batteries of tests that are different, like, you know, there was this Kurdish word test when they assume nobody knew Kurdish. I didn’t know Kurdish for sure. And they tested to see whether you could remember a bunch of words you’ve probably never seen. And in one list, you wrote them out. And in one list, you didn’t to eight in the memory. And so when I got back a test, this was a at Harvard. I was like, very high 90s in lots of different areas than one area. My score plummeted to like third percentile. Right. So what is that? Somebody said, Well, that’s kinesthetic reinforcement. I said, Well, what does that mean? They said, Well, were you to take notes, you would erase everything that you’re learning. Right? Right. And I said, What did you just say? And I realized that my note taking had wiped out my entire education.
Sam Harris 2:24:17
Up to that point, what now why would you have taken a test like this at Harvard?
Eric Weinstein 2:24:21
I was struggling. I was, I was in the most symbolically dependent subject. I mean, at some point, I’ll get into my history in mathematics. But there was no one remotely like me, in my situation is a PhD student at Harvard. And it was the worst possible a sensible Miss, you know, mismatch you could imagine, because math lives in symbols. It isn’t symbol. Yeah. But the symbols are really crucial for understanding what’s going on. And that’s exactly where I’m blocked. And the hope that I have is if I can get around some in large measure for myself, can I do it for people who aren’t even necessarily blocked and learn? Oh,
Sam Harris 2:25:06
yeah, I would love that. Because, like I have, you know, I consider myself more or less, you know, by comparison in numerous because I took math, you know, in high in high school. It’s not that I mean, I was sort of equivalently good on both studying both humanities and math. I mean, it was it was not obvious. I shouldn’t be pursuing math, but I never, you know, like, after once I did calculus in high school. I just never got math like I never I never got it was it was just work. And I never really got it. And then, you know, I mean, I’ve, you know, I’ve just taken, you know, mathematical logic and statistics, you know, at the college level, but like my, my math education stopped at a point because I hit a wall of, of one just, you know, lack of exposure to the beauty of it. I mean, I’m like a fan of math. Now. You know, like, interest terms of its broad concepts, but I hit the burden of having to grapple learn the language of the symbolism was high enough that it just a description it was there was no that none of reason to struggle with it. And I just, you know, I just
Eric Weinstein 2:26:17
thought was talking disabilities if you can overcome them end up in part as this incredible superpower because and I talk about this in terms of color blindness. So both my brother and I are color blind in a standard way. But we make the point about contrast blindness because there’s a trade off between whether you see color better than others or worse or whether you see contrast better. So, to the extent that what you see is learning disabilities, is mysterious to you, like why would this be retained in such a large portion of the population? It’s because I think it has the characteristic of being the cost that is paying for another superpower relative to somebody who’s not blocked on those Animals. And like, for example, I don’t know whether you notice the objects that are around here. The Klein bottles I said, I saw that. Yeah, I haven’t. I haven’t said that’s Bathsheba Grossman’s art, that’s a 24 cell, which is the unique new analog of a platonic solid that is not found it, sorry. The convex polytopes are the analogs of the platonic solids and dimension four, this is pushed back into dimension three, and that’s the unique convex polytopes that has no analog directly in dimension three. So then the other one that you have there is the analog of the enemy that this is a three dimensional projection of
Sam Harris 2:27:46
a four dimensional
Eric Weinstein 2:27:48
object. So like, you know, if you’ve seen the Tesseract that has the right hypercube, which is the three dimensional model that represents a four dimensional Structure right This right here is pretty directly the analog of the dodecahedron in four dimensions projected back into three dimensions.
Sam Harris 2:28:10
Now when again, this is my topology is layman’s topology, but the are some projections back into three dimensions far more evocative of, of the four dimensional object.
Eric Weinstein 2:28:29
Yeah, you want to see a lot of them so that you could see, so that you could understand,
Sam Harris 2:28:33
right? So how do you have an internal sense of how much you understand or don’t understand the higher dimensionality of an object based on the it’s three dimensional?
Eric Weinstein 2:28:46
Well, for example, if we took a regular Klein bottle here, right, and for those of you at home, I guess we should be talking about what we’re doing on video. Right, right. So I have a glass bottle where the neck has been passed through to what would be called the punt. And in three dimensions that appears to intersect the side of the bottle. But if you had an extra dimension represented by the amount of blueness in the bottle, and we colored this blue in the bell, clear here, you could see literally, in four dimensions, this doesn’t intersect itself, because this part of the glass would be clear that part of the glass would be blue. Hence, they’re separated by some dimension that we can’t represent spatially. Right. So by mixing spatial dimensions with color dimensions, I claim you can actually see in four dimensions that this thing doesn’t run into itself. The Klein bottle appears to intersect. Mathematically, there’s the same logic as a mobius strip is to Mobius bands sewn together. Okay. Right. Now, the point that I was making is that that is an example of an object where you don’t realize you can see four dimensions by just adding Color dimension two spatial dimensions, right? So I can give you lots of intuition pumps to this what I did on the Rogen program with the Hopf fibration. I called it the most important object in the universe, not because the Hopf fibration is, but it’s the only example of a principal fiber bundle, which is the underpinning of really the most fundamental physics we have. And my intention is to read one paragraph of Ed Witten with my audience. So you know, Oprah has a book club or had a book club, right? So I’m going to just try to get through one paragraph, which I think is the most important paragraph ever written in the English language, not because Edwin’s prose is so beautiful, not because it’s free of error. But because it actually makes an attempt to say what our most deep notions of reality are in a single paragraph with relatively few symbols and unknown words. So maybe to do a paragraph club where other people do a book club. So the awesome The hope is to really start off with conversations, but if people are following along at home and they say, where’s the portal? We’re just getting started. This is the open these are the opening shots.
Sam Harris 2:31:12
Yeah. But I would encourage you as a even as a side gig to the portal, maybe this is not podcast material, this maybe this is a online course or something, but to find a route in to higher mathematics for the symbol blocked,
Eric Weinstein 2:31:27
yeah, but I wanted to do music, I wanted to the unity of knowledge. All the stuff that people don’t even know is out there to be found because I believe that, you know, I call this transcendence hacking that the feeling of transcendence that often induces religious feelings is really better purposed as a guide to what is it what is worth paying special notice towards in a world drowning in distraction, and that feeling of Oh my got like this thing here? I don’t know if you’ve seen this No, I’m pointing at a crystal cube. That is a three dimensional projection of an eight dimensional root system of the 248 dimensional exceptionally group eight. So this is sort of the most complicated, exceptional object known this thier Nemesis is fake. He doesn’t own it. In fact, I was on it before he was I aband. What’s his name? Greg Garrett
Sam Harris 2:32:25
Unknown Speaker 2:32:27
Eric Weinstein 2:32:29
everyone should know that it’s there and worry about it, whether they’re a professional mathematician or not. So the idea I wasn’t planning to talk about the objects is to leave easter eggs and clues all over the place so that people start to habituate themselves to the idea that you don’t need angels or magic texts, in order to commune with something that gives you the feeling that maybe we’re not totally alone. And that doesn’t have to be an animate thing. That one, you know, worships it can be just the wonder of Michael God, there’s so much more mystery than anyone knew was was here even a short time ago.
Unknown Speaker 2:33:03
Yeah, yeah. Well,
Sam Harris 2:33:06
keep going. I’m enjoying the ride. All right. Well,
Eric Weinstein 2:33:10
Sam, thanks very much for coming by. You’re welcome to come back anytime and thanks for helping launches all those years ago with the first podcast we did over over your studio. Nice. Nice. So you’ve been through the portal with Sam Harris. Please subscribe to us on Apple iTunes or Spotify, Stitcher wherever you get your podcasts and please check us out on YouTube. Make sure to subscribe and click the bell if you want to be notified for future episodes. Thanks for hanging in there.
The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday