Last year I had some people try to convince me that Sam Harris is a racist. A case could be made, but I thought it was a pretty weak one. Not anymore.

I was up early this weekend and had the time to listen to 1.5 hours of this. I was finishing it while driving out to my land and had to shut if off. He was saying, “wouldn’t it be nice if we just stopped talking about race?” I have never felt like I could make a good argument against Sam, even when I intuitively feel he is wrong. But this, this was garbage. A few of my progressive facebook friends are posting it, as if there is a liberal case to be made against protesting police violence. I have a few notes if you want to see them.

I was listening to that Sam Harris podcast, also. I posted on it in the Humanism forum. It doesn’t seem to get a lot of traffic lately. I would appreciate responses to that thread, as well.

I only got 1/2 way thru the podcast.

Harris seems to go to great lengths to mention, pay quick lip service to, but quickly pass by, all of the things that are critical to addressing the continuing problems that must be addressed in policing, now that there is a real opportunity to do so. He then highlights the need to look at the issues in ways, that seem to me, to be a perspective that is most likely to maintain the status quo.

So yeah, I would like to see your points, and you can see the points I have made, so far, on the Humanism forum.


And damn, the guy is such a handsome and intelligent creature. How did the dark side get to him?

He is, I think, validly concerned that a backlash could come that would allow the T rump to exploit and tyranny to rule. I think that is definitely a concern. But are we to be frightened of that, into submitting to allowing the current issues to be painted over as usual?

I would not call Harris a racist. But he certainly appears to me to be venturing in to a rather typical (though well articulated) pro-racism, maintain-the-status-quo, mindset.

I’m getting into this on couple facebooks threads too. I should probably take a break. Here are some of the raw notes I took, with minute marks. I’d be interested if you think I’m off base.

45 - 2019 was a 30 year low for police shootings. He dismisses our feelings about what he’s saying as “not an argument”, trying to switch to our “capacity to be offended”. We should “care about facts”.

48 – “I’m going to speak in the language of facts now.” - This is where he sounded like a conspiracy theorist.

54 – after excusing cops, he says “most cops don’t get the training they need”. Earlier he had talked about how wrong “defunding” is because it’s saying we shouldn’t have well trained cops.

1:00 – Chauvin didn’t intend to kill Floyd and lamer excuses

This was the only truly data rich section to me. And it seemed a bit confused. But it comes down to the one way a racist can spin the data, the arrest rates are high, so they are justified in policing more. But the entire argument is about over-policing, which he doesn’t really seem to address.

1:15 – Killings, 25% black (13% of pop.), 50% white. Blacks commit 50% of murders and violent crimes. 2/3 of violent crime in major cities. Black on black and black on white crime. Only recently is it white on black.

1:18 “ironically, one remedy would be effective policing”, then he admits there is doubt that it is effective. Fryer study, empirical analysis of racial differences, black people suffer more non-lethal violence, cuffs, thrown down, but non-lethal.

1:21 “Racism, maybe, but”, says non-white cops do it too. Never considers the white cops are making sure that happens. Fryer also found a greater % to shoot at whites, and Sam admits this is just one study.

1:23 – “in proportion to their crime rate”


I have only heard it to close to the 1 hour mark. I don’t think you are off base with your reactions to the 1st half of the podcast. Early on, I recall him saying something like the call to “Defund the Police” is insane, or something like that. He is correct that as a political campaign slogan, it would be counterproductive. But that is because it is interpreted by some (including Harris seemingly) as a move to get rid of police altogether.

But as a tactical movement, it is not crazy at all. What is crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, eh? Harris wants to do the same old paper-over-the-issues and get society back in to its same old institutionalized rungs of maintaining the status quo of injustice.

I think that “Defund the Police” should be considered as a means of stripping down each police system and building it back up in a way that does not include the systemic work-arounds that maintain the bad policing. But it does present an easy target for the T rump’s counter that we should have dominating military-style law enforcement in order to have “Law and Order”. How about we have equality of Justice in the maintenance of order? And how about we have laws that apply justly in their impact on ALL, rather than laws that wind up hurting many while letting others skate, due to privilege of race or wealth or position?

I suppose I will need to get to the “data rich section” that you mentioned.

In my thread under Humanism, I did comment on some data that he used earlier. An important point, I think, is that Harris seemed to be saying that we have come so far in addressing racism, that we are likely to be over-reaching and claiming that certain events and actions are indicative of racism, when we are likely, according to him, just “chasing ghosts” of racism, when it is really just something else, altogether. In Harris’s view, it seems the real issue is just income and wealth disparity, and a variety of other random factors that just happen, that he thinks really have little to do with “racism” or systemic racism.

The data he used was that cops perform over 1o million arrests a year and only wind up killing around 1,000 people a year. One thing wrong with that, is that less than 5% of the 10 million arrests are for violent offenses. One would think that non-violent arrests would be less likely to result in killing the target of the arrest. But we keep seeing case after case of cops killing black men in arrests for non-violent offenses.

Also Harris says that the solution has to start with rational conversations. Okay, Sam Harris, come to the CFI Forums, anonymously, if you wish. Start a rational conversation about race issues and policing. You will get some fine rational responses. You will also, no doubt, get responses from the less than rational (like Sree, for instance)at times, but in a semi-open forum there has to be room for the occasional irrational. Because humans are naturally often irrational. (Some more than others.)

But if you, Sam Harris, truly believe that rational conversations are the necessary starting point, I think that you can get some of that here.