Ezra Klein and Sam Harris

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Postby husbands » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:16 pm

ezra supported the iraq war
ROLL COAL
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Postby VHGisdead » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:19 pm

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Postby VHGisdead » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:21 pm

I trusted my readers to not be a bunch of mouthbreathing idiots. I regret overestimating all of you.
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Postby Feech La Manna » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:24 pm

Man, they've really fallen in love with idea of gaslighting lately
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Postby VHGisdead » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:25 pm

whoops, didn't see that was covered

anyway, funny thread

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Postby Feech La Manna » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:27 pm

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badhat wrote:bike solve all problems
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Postby walt » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:32 pm

is sam harris an idiot, fraud, or some combination of the two?

honest question.
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Postby Feech La Manna » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:40 pm

He has a PhD in neuroscience but like most of these dudes who have decided to be a "public intellectual" most of his stuff is just taking what his listeners want to hear and pseuding it up
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Postby vivian darko » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:49 pm

sam harris schadenfreude is the truest pleasure in this life life
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Postby light rail coyote » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:57 pm

The Dirty Turtle wrote:when did the board turn on ezra


prefacing this by saying i think ezra's article was pretty good and that obviously harris looks like a massive crybaby in the emails

i can't speak for anyone but myself, but i think klein is often quite good at explaining complex public policy in a way that was accessible to non-specialists but he's also fairly limited in his understanding of the political machinations that create policy in the first place and as such tends to miss the forest for the trees. as others have mentioned, his refusal to believe that paul ryan isn't actually a serious technocratic policy wonk illustrates this really well. the idea that ryan's overall framework of what politics is supposed to look like- beneficial only to upper class interests at the expense of democratic outcomes- has implications in terms of what kind of policy that ryan will pursue is something that klein still seems to not understand, leading him to make a ton of "oh golly gee shucks why are republicans doing this if it's going to hurt people?" style commentary. he tends to buy into this really naive idea that politics is about people who agree on a desired result agreeing to disagree on how to get there. but politics is fundamentally a process used to channel and manage conflict among competing social groups who have different desired outcomes in terms of the distribution of political, social, and economic resources and power. what a liberal wants and what a conservative wants are often diametrically opposed to the degree that there's actually not a "common middle ground," and that's before you expand the political spectrum beyond the fairly limited binary of american politics. he never entertains that it's not just different perspectives on how to go from Point A to Point B and that sometimes two groups are trying to reach fundamentally different points altogether. the idea that republicans may be acting in bad faith when they talk about wanting to protect the middle class or create a more inclusive economy is foreign to him because it's just not something that's possible in the framework he's using.

as a result, he also tends to fall victim to a lot of really bad pop-polsci. during the obama era, for example, we was really big on quoting a lot of bad electoral realignment theory to explain obama's election despite the fact that most of the academic literature at the time was openly scoffing at the idea that 2008 was a realigning election (and the few that were seriously making that argument were making it with the argument that the new alignment was democrats easily taking the white house but losing what little power they had left in congress; ezra's arguments basically predicted the onset of an era of democratic rule across the board). during the rise of the tea party, he was really big into explaining the dysfunction away through a "rise in polarization" and "rise in partisanship" as if bipartisanship in of itself is a policy value rather than just a procedural question (all theories that were based on rather bunk pop-polisci stuff). or he would quote that silly "the economy always does better under democrats than republicans," argument even though that's a fairly meaningless statement because it's ignoring so many more significant variables that any political economist would find it laughable (it's also bad to hinge your argument there on the clinton presidency given that the economic growth during clinton era was build on a foundation that directly caused the 2008 financial crisis).

i don't hate ezra or anything, and again, i think he can do good technocratic readings of policy but technocratic readings of policy are inherently limited as explanations and he gets in over his head once he tries to expand beyond that. i'm much more open to technocratic policy writing that most who call themselves marxists (and frankly i think more marxists need to move in that direction given that we're trying to argue that we should be directing policy demands) but by itself it always comes off as overly simplistic. i think ezra is just the most visible example of this so he gets all of the critique directed at him when i think most people are just annoyed with the larger framework he adopts.
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Postby Bartatua » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:30 pm

Feech La Manna wrote:Image


i think about this particular quote all the time
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Postby Dead_Wizard » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:36 am

Ezra posted this dumb Hobbesian hot take on twitter the other day and I wanted to deck him through my monitor
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Postby largecrow » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:52 am

light rail coyote wrote:
The Dirty Turtle wrote:when did the board turn on ezra


prefacing this by saying i think ezra's article was pretty good and that obviously harris looks like a massive crybaby in the emails

i can't speak for anyone but myself, but i think klein is often quite good at explaining complex public policy in a way that was accessible to non-specialists but he's also fairly limited in his understanding of the political machinations that create policy in the first place and as such tends to miss the forest for the trees. as others have mentioned, his refusal to believe that paul ryan isn't actually a serious technocratic policy wonk illustrates this really well. the idea that ryan's overall framework of what politics is supposed to look like- beneficial only to upper class interests at the expense of democratic outcomes- has implications in terms of what kind of policy that ryan will pursue is something that klein still seems to not understand, leading him to make a ton of "oh golly gee shucks why are republicans doing this if it's going to hurt people?" style commentary. he tends to buy into this really naive idea that politics is about people who agree on a desired result agreeing to disagree on how to get there. but politics is fundamentally a process used to channel and manage conflict among competing social groups who have different desired outcomes in terms of the distribution of political, social, and economic resources and power. what a liberal wants and what a conservative wants are often diametrically opposed to the degree that there's actually not a "common middle ground," and that's before you expand the political spectrum beyond the fairly limited binary of american politics. he never entertains that it's not just different perspectives on how to go from Point A to Point B and that sometimes two groups are trying to reach fundamentally different points altogether. the idea that republicans may be acting in bad faith when they talk about wanting to protect the middle class or create a more inclusive economy is foreign to him because it's just not something that's possible in the framework he's using.

as a result, he also tends to fall victim to a lot of really bad pop-polsci. during the obama era, for example, we was really big on quoting a lot of bad electoral realignment theory to explain obama's election despite the fact that most of the academic literature at the time was openly scoffing at the idea that 2008 was a realigning election (and the few that were seriously making that argument were making it with the argument that the new alignment was democrats easily taking the white house but losing what little power they had left in congress; ezra's arguments basically predicted the onset of an era of democratic rule across the board). during the rise of the tea party, he was really big into explaining the dysfunction away through a "rise in polarization" and "rise in partisanship" as if bipartisanship in of itself is a policy value rather than just a procedural question (all theories that were based on rather bunk pop-polisci stuff). or he would quote that silly "the economy always does better under democrats than republicans," argument even though that's a fairly meaningless statement because it's ignoring so many more significant variables that any political economist would find it laughable (it's also bad to hinge your argument there on the clinton presidency given that the economic growth during clinton era was build on a foundation that directly caused the 2008 financial crisis).

i don't hate ezra or anything, and again, i think he can do good technocratic readings of policy but technocratic readings of policy are inherently limited as explanations and he gets in over his head once he tries to expand beyond that. i'm much more open to technocratic policy writing that most who call themselves marxists (and frankly i think more marxists need to move in that direction given that we're trying to argue that we should be directing policy demands) but by itself it always comes off as overly simplistic. i think ezra is just the most visible example of this so he gets all of the critique directed at him when i think most people are just annoyed with the larger framework he adopts.


great post
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Postby joe » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:38 am

joe wrote:is there an enclopedia dramatica blow by blow so i don't actually have to read something written by sam harris


Reading his own Reddit page dunking on him satisfied this need
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Postby joe » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:40 am

Enough with these fringe ideologically driven psychologists. I will now turn to [checks notes] a Jungian who is fighting against a supposed cabal of neomarxist post modernists.
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Postby Jeremy » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:20 am

One funny thing about early Law & Order episodes is that every evil therapist is a Reichian.
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Postby mcwop23 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:44 am

thanks for that coyote

i think on the weeds since it’s so wonky i can deal with him mostly doing the explanation thing but i can not stand his own podcast

and i also generally like MattY and Sarah
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Postby Jeremy » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:54 am

Matt is great.

I don't really dislike Ezra but his biggest fault by far is that he's way the Hell too intellectually generous and seems basically incapable of operating as though he's aware that people sometimes argue in bad faith, which is why it's so funny that Harris managed to get smoked by him.
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Postby draw » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:06 am

If you're in the business of political analysis or whatever it is, it's probably way more boring (for readers) to say people are acting in bad faith than it is to take them to task for their stated beliefs.
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Postby cooly » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:09 am

It's kind of remarkable that Sam Harris took 11 years off college to do drugs, graduating at 33, and ended up as one of these 'cult of reason' guys (that of course have no real understanding of logic and an incredibly simplistic understanding of empiricism and naturalism.)

I feel like when you take that much time off to do drugs, you're supposed to end up a Heidegger guy, not a third rate A.J. Ayer
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Postby Jeremy » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:31 am

draw wrote:If you're in the business of political analysis or whatever it is, it's probably way more boring (for readers) to say people are acting in bad faith than it is to take them to task for their stated beliefs.


This technique/outlook does work for him sometimes (like I think the article this blow-up is about is really damning just because it's preposterously ingenuous) but back in like 2012 when he'd be writing like "This Republican proposal doesn't actually reduce the deficit" or whatever it was maddening. I think a lot of the ill will towards him and that approach comes out of those years where people like him kept giving Republicans rope and instead of hanging themselves they tied everyone up.
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Postby light rail coyote » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:36 am

draw wrote:If you're in the business of political analysis or whatever it is, it's probably way more boring (for readers) to say people are acting in bad faith than it is to take them to task for their stated beliefs.


i think this is giving ezra a little too much credit. the framework he adopts is so common that i think he just sincerely finds it to be the most useful for explaining politics but i also just think he's wrong. not to sound like a chapo bro, but a lot of his worldview seems pretty directly influenced by the professional/consultant think tank view of politics and as someone who has spent most of my adult life in proximity with those folks, it's hard to believe it's just a writing strategy rather than a deeply held belief.

i also disagree that it's more interesting, because writing about someone like paul ryan's bad faith accurately isn't just calling them a liar, it's also putting his bad faith into the larger context of his philosophy of governance which imo is a big, exciting, and sexy issue that's way more compelling that wonky proceduralism.
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Postby Jeremy » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:41 am

cooly wrote:It's kind of remarkable that Sam Harris took 11 years off college to do drugs, graduating at 33, and ended up as one of these 'cult of reason' guys (that of course have no real understanding of logic and an incredibly simplistic understanding of empiricism and naturalism.)

I feel like when you take that much time off to do drugs, you're supposed to end up a Heidegger guy, not a third rate A.J. Ayer


Not exactly my place to criticize for any of this, but man. I enjoy analytic philosophy, but imagine being like attracted to the trappings analytic philosophy because of their cultural connotations and aesthetic qualities.
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Postby Jeremy » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:42 am

I guess that's exactly what you were doing in that post but I wanted to uh foreground it.
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Postby freezinseason » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:45 am

carnival souls good movie
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Postby cooly » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:51 am

nah that was a more interesting version of my post.

it's funny how the, for lack of a better term, 'primitive analytic philosophy' worldview manifests itself in when he talks about the ways in which non-genetic factors can influence IQ. like in this exchange

The consensus also includes the observation that the IQs of black Americans are lower, on average, than that of whites, and — most contentiously — that this and other differences among racial groups is based at least in part in genetics.

Read that last phrase again, leaving IQ aside for a moment: Are the authors really suggesting that “other differences” between racial groups are NOT “based at least in part in genetics”? Is it really “most contentious” to say that a person’s skin color “is based at least in part in genetics”? You must see the problem with this sort of writing (and thinking).


it's just funny when he's thinking about what the important features of a human being are that might differ across cultures, his mind rushes to us as bags of meat with skin on top (and that meat is made of atoms, under the direction of the dna atoms.)
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Postby cooly » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:00 am

i haven't read almost any of klein's political writing but there's a funny mirror between what you're saying about it and this piece, insofar as he allows his opponent to dictate the terms of disagreement and takes them up on 'matters of fact' within that framework. he allows sam harris to have "racial categories are natural and reflect the genetic content of groups of people", "intelligence is a single thing that can be meaningfully compared directly both within and across times, cultures, etc.", "IQ is an objective measure of intelligence", and tries to take him up on whether the 'facts' reflect that.

it's an interesting feature of this exchange insofar as each party is speaking 'on behalf of the science', but i don't think any of those premises are taken as true (or at least as obviously true) by current, mainstream scientists who work on those things.

i should say that this is a bit unfair because klein has to defend the article as its written, and anyways there's a question about how effective challenging those assumptions would be to sam harris's audience; it seems like what he did was extremely effective in making sam harris fans doubt sam (although like jeremy says, sam put in almost all of the work here)


edit: when I wrote 'whether the 'facts' reflect that" i should've written "whether the 'facts' reflect that there is a genetic disparity in IQ between races", with my point being that the premises are going unchallenged.
Last edited by cooly on Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Jeremy » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:11 am

cooly wrote:i haven't read almost any of klein's political writing but there's a funny mirror between what you're saying about it and this piece, insofar as he allows his opponent to dictate the terms of disagreement and takes them up on 'matters of fact' within that framework. he allows sam harris to have "racial categories are natural and reflect the genetic content of groups of people", "intelligence is a single thing that can be meaningfully compared directly both within and across times, cultures, etc.", "IQ is an objective measure of intelligence", and tries to take him up on whether the 'facts' reflect that.

it's an interesting feature of this exchange insofar as each party is speaking 'on behalf of the science', but i don't think any of those premises are taken as true (or at least as obviously true) by current, mainstream scientists who work on those things.

i should say that this is a bit unfair because klein has to defend the article as its written, and anyways there's a question about how effective challenging those assumptions would be to sam harris's audience; it seems like what he did was extremely effective in making sam harris fans doubt sam (although like jeremy says, sam put in almost all of the work here)


Teasing out Ezra's motivations from the way he writes, it seems in general like he wants people to be beaten on their own terms, but he never wants to be the person that beats anyone. If your terms are just a perpetually shifting batch of foam complaints that just stand in as the like elite expression of otherwise impolite cultural grievances/plutocratic grasping, the way say Ryan's complaints about entitlement programs and debt are, this can't really work. But because he's got this weird libidinal attraction to stuff with the trappings of white-guy science and the "objectivity" that entails, Harris kicked his own ass on his own (stupid) terms.
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Postby rich uncle skeleton » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:33 am

cooly wrote:i haven't read almost any of klein's political writing but there's a funny mirror between what you're saying about it and this piece, insofar as he allows his opponent to dictate the terms of disagreement and takes them up on 'matters of fact' within that framework. he allows sam harris to have "racial categories are natural and reflect the genetic content of groups of people", "intelligence is a single thing that can be meaningfully compared directly both within and across times, cultures, etc.", "IQ is an objective measure of intelligence", and tries to take him up on whether the 'facts' reflect that.

it's an interesting feature of this exchange insofar as each party is speaking 'on behalf of the science', but i don't think any of those premises are taken as true (or at least as obviously true) by current, mainstream scientists who work on those things.

i should say that this is a bit unfair because klein has to defend the article as its written, and anyways there's a question about how effective challenging those assumptions would be to sam harris's audience; it seems like what he did was extremely effective in making sam harris fans doubt sam (although like jeremy says, sam put in almost all of the work here)


edit: when I wrote 'whether the 'facts' reflect that" i should've written "whether the 'facts' reflect that there is a genetic disparity in IQ between races", with my point being that the premises are going unchallenged.


I mean even if you give Murray all of that (which is incredibly problematic, damaging, and as you've said does not seem to be unanimous scientific consensus) there's still a ton of criticism to be made on his policy proposals. Like read this from the Bell Curve:

Image

Problem is Murray is v adept at qualifying these recommendations in person, and has honed his spiel over the years to say "this is not about policy or race realism, this is just science" so he won't have to back his reactionary libertarian policies

I also think it's funny that Harris continues to say he's being silenced and that Murray has been. Murray has been criticized but he still publishes and has been covered extensively by mainstream media and academics for like 30 years
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Postby inmate » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:14 am

i think klein has slowly started accepting over the last couple years that republicans/paul ryan act in bad faith, but his instinct is still to do his usual wonky stuff so it comes off like he's still naive.
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