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Sam Harris: Transcending it All?
Episode 8924th December 2023 • Decoding the Gurus • Christopher Kavanagh and Matthew Browne
00:00:00 03:20:10

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Sam Harris is the subject today and a man who needs no introduction. Although he's come up and he's come on, we've never actually (technically) decoded him. There is no Gurometer score! A glaring omission and one that needs correcting. It would have been easy for us to cherry-pick Sam being extremely good on conspiracy theories, or extremely controversial on politics, but we felt that neither would be fair. So we opted for a general and broad-ranging recent interview he did with Chris Williamson. Love him or loathe him, it's a representative piece of Sam Harris content, and therefore good material for us.

Sam talks about leaving Twitter, and how transformative that was for his life, then gets into his favourite topic: Buddhism, consciousness, and living in the moment. That's the kind of spiritual kumbaya topics that Sam reports causing him little pain online but Chris and Matt- the soulless physicalists and p-zombies that they are- seek to destroy even that refuge. On the other hand, they find themselves determined by the very forces of the universe to nod their meat puppet heads in furious agreement as Sam discusses the problems with free speech absolutism and reactionary conspiracism.

That's just a taste of what's to come in this extra-ordinarily long episode to finish off the year. What's the DTG take? You'll have to listen to find out all the details, but we do think there is some selective interpretation of religions at hand and some gut reactions to wokeness that leads to some significant blindspots.

So is Sam Harris an enlightened genius, a neo-conservative warmonger, a manipulative secular guru? Or is he, in the immortal words of Gag Halfrunt, Zaphod Beeblebrox's head specialist, "just zis guy, you know?".

Sam was DTG's white whale of 2023, but we'll let you be the judge as to whether or not we harpooned him, or whether he's swimming off contentedly, unscathed, into the open ocean.