Long time readers know we have occasionally indulged in Sam Harris fricassée in these pages. See here, here and here for examples. Harris is one of the leading proponents of the “consciousness is an illusion” school, which means he denies the Primordial Datum – the one thing that everyone (including Sam Harris) knows for a certain fact to be true — that they are aware of their own existence. That said, we will be the first to admit there is an integrity – of a sort – to Harris’ silliness. He understands that his materialism precludes, in principle, the existence of immaterial consciousness, and so he denies consciousness exists. Yes, I know, it is gobsmackingly stupid. But at least it is an honest sort of stupidity.
Unsurprisingly, Harris is an uber-progressive, but, as Kyle Smith at NR reports, Harris’ integrity has landed him in hot water with his fellow progressives, especially Ezra Klein:
Klein’s site Vox, in a piece by scientists Eric Turkheimer, Kathryn Paige Harden, and Richard E. Nisbett, merely tagged Harris as participating in “pseudoscientific racialist speculation” and peddling “junk science” while being “egregiously wrong morally” and implied he’s on the same side as eugenicists, claiming that the burden of proof is on Harris to demonstrate that he isn’t. The piece was listed as one of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hatewatch headlines” of the day, right alongside news about neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Klein himself then chimed in with an attack piece saying Harris was carrying on with “America’s most ancient justification for bigotry and racial inequality.” All of this because Harris had a podcast conversation with Charles Murray, the co-author of The Bell Curve, which contains a chapter about race and IQ.
Klein is a high priest of progressivism, and like most such he holds progressive orthodoxies with a blinkered and hidebound dogmatism that would have made Torquemada blush. Harris allows Murray a platform to express views challenging a progressive orthodoxy? To the stake! Fortunately for the rest of us, Klein has no access to a literal stake, so he burns Harris metaphorically in the pages of Vox. And for a progressive like Harris, that may be almost as painful as the real thing.