Sam Harris on Joe Rogan Podcast 192


‘Coz there’s a lot of… One of the great strategies or one of the less noble but effective strategies of debate is to… If you’ve lost a point, you just don’t, you don’t concede it. You just kinda move on to something else and hopefully no one notices.


And in a formal debate format, there’s often no mechanism by which to sort–for your opponent to score that as conquered ground like you can address each other in real time so… So it’s like I talk for 10 minutes. Someone else talks for 10 minutes.


The moderator doesn’t necessarily interrupt us and we, the two discussants cannot address one another. So a formal debate is actually, ironically, the worst format to


Joe Rogan: actually


Sam Harris: actually prove who’s right because it’s like fighting someone you inver–, you’re separated by. It’s like boxing. You got to clench and the ref separates you.


Uhm, and so you can’t really test every tool in that context and so, uhm, you can just talk past each other and not address the thing that was brought up 10 minutes ago and it never really gets scored.

So it’s uhm, it’s amazingly unsatisfying even when you feel like you have said exactly what you should have said


Joe Rogan: Because they just won’t buy it


Sam Harris: It’s just like, just like fighting with fog, you know.


Joe Rogan: Phew!


Sam Harris: No one ever falls down and occasionally you score a blow that you know the audience has noticed.


But even then the audience is partitioned in to you know..  your side and the other side and it’s amazing how invulnerable people’s prejudices and biases are to argument.


Joe Rogan: It also becomes a team. You know becomes something that defines you. A lot of people are defined by their ideas especially when it comes to their religion or their politics.


You know, they’re defined by them to the point where they like act in certain parameters because they think that’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re on this team.


Sam Harris: Right.


Joe Rogan: People like that, for some.. I mean it’s a weird, creepy desire that we have to become part of a team and defend that team. And I think that happens when, when it gets into religious arguments.


It’s like you’re not just attacking an idea that someone planted in their head. You’re attacking how they define themselves.


Sam Harris: Yeah, yeah. It is. It is people’s extended identity.


Joe Rogan: Yeah, I’m a Windows user.


Sam Harris: Yeah.


Joe Rogan: It’s like, I’m a Christian. I’m a Catholic. It becomes, you know really, it becomes a big part of how they view and if you want to take that away from them, it’s like you know…


Sam Harris: Yeah, so you can see, when you’re having a discussion.. it’s especially obvious in a debate format. Basically nobody has any hope that either side is gonna change their mind in the context of the debate.


I mean they’ve come there to represent their views and they’ve got so much investment in doing that as well as they can. That they’re not… even if their mind was changed, they’re not gonna admit it. It’s not really an honest discussion.


But when you’re having an honest discussion, let’s say you’re one on one with somebody of deep conviction about faith. You can see the, kinda like the emotional hijacking of the conversation on their side very quickly. It’s basically like debating whether their wife is attractive or something.


I mean it just goes to something like the core and it’s no longer about the ideas or evidence or uhm. It’s one skill which admittedly I don’t have such a firm grasp on.


But one skill to acquire as a person is to figure out how these conversations where you’re being as rational and intellectually honest as possible. But you’re actually making the right Jujitsu moves around people’s emotional response because it’s just


Joe Rogan: But you do it with comedy

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