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The Best of Making Sense with Sam Harris

The Best of Making Sense with Sam Harris

Join neuroscientist, philosopher, and five-time New York Times best-selling author Sam Harris as he explores important and controversial questions about the mind, society, current events, moral philosophy, religion, and rationality?with an overarching focus on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live. Sam is also the creator of the Waking Up app. Combining Sam?s decades of mindfulness practice, profound wisdom from varied philosophical and contemplative traditions, and a commitment to a secular, scientific worldview, Waking Up is a resource for anyone interested in living a more examined, fulfilling life?and a new operating system for the mind. Waking Up offers free subscriptions to anyone who can?t afford one, and donates a minimum of 10% of profits to the most effective charities around the world. To learn more, please go to WakingUp.com. Sam Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. Follow Sam on Twitter: @SamHarrisOrg

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#77 ? The Moral Complexity of Genetics

Sam Harris speaks with Siddhartha Mukherjee about the human desire to understand and manipulate heredity, the genius of Gregor Mendel, the ethics of altering our genes, the future of genetic medicine, patent issues in genetic research, and other topics.

Siddhartha Mukherjee is a cancer physician and researcher. He is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a staff cancer physician at the CU/NYU Presbyterian Hospital. A former Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford (where he received a PhD studying cancer-causing viruses) and from Harvard Medical School. His laboratory focuses on discovering new cancer drugs using innovative biological methods. He has published articles and commentary in such journals as Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, Neuron and the Journal of Clinical Investigation and in publications such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, and the New Republic. His work was nominated for Best American Science Writing, 2000. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. His most recent book is The Gene: An Intimate History.

If the Best Of Making Sense podcast logo in your player is BLACK & WHITE, you can SUBSCRIBE to gain access to all full-length episodes at samharris.org/subscribe.

 

Episodes that have been re-released as part of the Best of Making Sense series may have been edited for relevance since their original airing.

2022-11-21
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#137 ? Safe Space

Sam Harris speaks with Jonathan Haidt about his book The Coddling of the American Mind. They discuss the hostility to free speech that has grown more common among young adults, recent moral panics on campus, the role of intentions in ethical life, the economy of prestige in ?call out? culture, how we should define bigotry, systemic racism, the paradox of progress, and other topics.

Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University?s Stern School of Business. He received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 and then did post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago and in Orissa, India. He taught at the University of Virginia for 16 years before moving to NYU-Stern in 2011. He was named one of the ?top global thinkers? by Foreign Policy magazine, and one of the ?top world thinkers? by Prospect magazine. He is the co-developer of Moral Foundations theory, and of the research site YourMorals.org. He is a co-founder of HeterodoxAcademy.org, which advocates for viewpoint diversity in higher education. He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. His latest book (with Greg Lukianoff) is The Coddling of the American Mind: How good intentions and bad ideas are setting a generation up for failure.

If the Best Of Making Sense podcast logo in your player is BLACK & WHITE, you can SUBSCRIBE to gain access to all full-length episodes at samharris.org/subscribe.

 

Episodes that have been re-released as part of the Best of Making Sense series may have been edited for relevance since their original airing.

2022-11-14
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#127 ? Freedom From the Known

Sam Harris speaks with Michael Pollan about his book How to Change Your Mind. They cover the resurgence of interest in psychedelics in clinical practice and end-of-life care, the ?betterment of well people,? the relationship between thinking and mental suffering, the differences between psychedelics and meditation, the non-duality of consciousness, the brain?s ?default mode network,? their experiences with various psychedelics, and other topics.

Michael Pollan is the author of eight books, including Cooked, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore?s Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire, all of which were New York Times bestsellers. A longtime contributor to the New York Times Magazine, he also teaches writing at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. In 2010, TIME magazine named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world. His most recent book is This Is Your Mind on Plants.

Twitter: @michaelpollan

If the Best Of Making Sense podcast logo in your player is BLACK & WHITE, you can SUBSCRIBE to gain access to all full-length episodes at samharris.org/subscribe.

 

Episodes that have been re-released as part of the Best of Making Sense series may have been edited for relevance since their original airing.

2022-11-07
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#173 ? Anti-Semitism and Its Discontents

Sam Harris speaks with Bari Weiss about her book How to Fight anti-Semitism. They discuss the three different strands of anti-Semitism (rightwing, leftwing, and Islamic), the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, the difference between anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, the history of anti-Semitism in the U.S., criticisms of Israel, and other topics.

Bari Weiss is the editor of Common Sense and the host of the podcast Honestly. From 2017 until 2020, Bari was a staff writer and editor for the Opinion section of The New York Times. Before joining the Times, Bari was an op-ed editor at the Wall Street Journal and an associate book review editor there. For two years, she was a senior editor at Tablet, the online magazine of Jewish news, politics, and culture, where she edited the site's political and news coverage. She regularly appears on shows like The View, Morning Joe and Real Time with Bill Maher.

If the Best Of Making Sense podcast logo in your player is BLACK & WHITE, you can SUBSCRIBE to gain access to all full-length episodes at samharris.org/subscribe.

 

Episodes that have been re-released as part of the Best of Making Sense series may have been edited for relevance since their original airing.

2022-10-31
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#48 ? What Is Moral Progress?

Only the first 38 minutes of this episode are available on the paywalled podcast version (the BLACK & WHITE podcast logo). If you?d like to hear the full 1 hour and 40 minutes of this episode and gain access to all full-length episodes of the podcast, you?ll need to SUBSCRIBE here. If you?re already subscribed and on the private RSS feed, the podcast logo should appear GOLD & WHITE.

Sam Harris speaks with Peter Singer about the concept of universal moral truths, the ethics of violence, free speech, euthanasia, animal welfare, and other topics.

Peter Singer is the Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University.  He is the author of Animal Liberation, The Most Good You Can Do, Ethics in the Real World, and most recently Why Vegan? He is also the co-founder of The Life You Can Save, a nonprofit devoted to spreading his ideas about why we should be doing much more to improve the lives of people living in extreme poverty.

Website: www.petersinger.info

Twitter: @PeterSinger

 

Episodes that have been re-released as part of the Best of Making Sense series may have been edited for relevance since their original airing.

2022-10-24
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#116 ? AI: Racing Toward the Brink

Only the first 48 minutes of this episode are available on the paywalled podcast version (the BLACK & WHITE podcast logo). If you?d like to hear the full 2 hours and 5 minutes of this episode and gain access to all full-length episodes of the podcast, you?ll need to SUBSCRIBE here. If you?re already subscribed and on the private RSS feed, the podcast logo should appear GOLD & WHITE.

Sam Harris speaks with Eliezer Yudkowsky about the nature of intelligence, different types of AI, the ?alignment problem,? IS vs OUGHT, the possibility that future AI might deceive us, the AI arms race, conscious AI, coordination problems, and other topics.

Eliezer Yudkowsky is a decision theorist and computer scientist at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute in Berkeley, California who is known for his work in technological forecasting. His publications include the Cambridge Handbook of Artificial Intelligence chapter ?The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence,? co-authored with Nick Bostrom. Yudkowsky?s writings have helped spark a number of ongoing academic and public debates about the long-term impact of AI, and he has written a number of popular introductions to topics in cognitive science and formal epistemology, such as Rationality: From AI to Zombies and ?Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.? He is also the author of Inadequate Equilibria: Where and How Civilizations Get Stuck.

Twitter: @ESYudkowsky

 

Episodes that have been re-released as part of the Best of Making Sense series may have been edited for relevance since their original airing.

2022-10-17
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#196 ? The Science of Happiness

Only the first 31 minutes of this episode are available on the paywalled podcast version (the BLACK & WHITE podcast logo). If you?d like to hear the full 1 hour and 14 minutes of this episode and gain access to all full-length episodes of the podcast, you?ll need to SUBSCRIBE here. If you?re already subscribed and on the private RSS feed, the podcast logo should appear GOLD & WHITE.

Sam Harris speaks with Laurie Santos about the scientific study of happiness. They discuss people?s expectations about happiness, the experiencing self vs the remembered self, framing effects, the importance of social connections, the effect of focusing on the happiness of others, introversion and extroversion, the influence of technology on social life, our relationship to time, the connection between happiness and ethics, hedonic adaptation, the power of mindfulness, resilience, the often illusory significance of reaching goals, and other topics.

Laurie Santos is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. She hosts the popular podcast The Happiness Lab and she teaches the most popular course offered at Yale to date, titled The Science of Well-Being. Laurie is also the director of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory and the Canine Cognition Center at Yale. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Biology from Harvard University in 1997 and her Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard in 2003.

Twitter:@lauriesantos

Episodes that have been re-released as part of the Best of Making Sense series may have been edited for relevance since their original airing.

2022-10-10
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#200 ? Creatures of Habit

Only the first 33 minutes of this episode are available on the paywalled podcast version (the BLACK & WHITE podcast logo). If you?d like to hear the full 1 hour and 8 minutes of this episode and gain access to all full-length episodes of the podcast, you?ll need to SUBSCRIBE here. If you?re already subscribed and on the private RSS feed, the podcast logo should appear GOLD & WHITE.

Sam Harris speaks with James Clear about habit formation. They discuss the difference between creating good habits and discontinuing bad ones, the role of the environment, the misalignment between immediate and long term outcomes, the remembering self vs the experiencing self, goals vs systems, the compounding of incremental gains, the role of attention, the four laws of behavior change, ?temptation bundling,? and other topics.

James Clear is an author and speaker focused on habits, decision-making, and continuous improvement. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Time, and on CBS This Morning. He is a regular speaker at Fortune 500 companies and his work is used by teams in the NFL, NBA, and MLB. His book Atomic Habits is a New York Times bestseller and has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide.

Website: www.jamesclear.com

Twitter: @jamesclear 

Instagram: @jamesclear

 

Episodes that have been re-released as part of the Best of Making Sense series may have been edited for relevance since their original airing.

2022-10-03
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#175 ? Leaving the Faith

Sam Harris speaks with Yasmine Mohammed about her book Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam. They discuss her family background and indoctrination into conservative Islam, the double standard that Western liberals use when thinking about women in the Muslim community, the state of feminism in general, honor violence, the validity of criticizing other cultures, and many other topics.

Yasmine Mohammed is a human rights activist and writer. She advocates for the rights of women living within Islamic majority countries, as well as those who struggle under religious fundamentalism. She is the founder of Free Hearts Free Minds, an organization that provides psychological support for ex-Muslims living within Muslim majority countries. 

Website: YasmineMohammed.com

Twitter: @YasMohammedxx

If the Best Of Making Sense podcast logo in your player is BLACK & WHITE, you can SUBSCRIBE to gain access to all full-length episodes at samharris.org/subscribe.

 

Episodes that have been re-released as part of the Best of Making Sense series may have been edited for relevance since their original airing.

2022-09-26
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#211 ? The Nature of Human Nature

Only the first 34 minutes of this episode are available on the paywalled podcast version (the BLACK & WHITE podcast logo). If you?d like to hear the full 1 hour and 53 minutes of this episode and gain access to all full-length episodes of the podcast, you?ll need to SUBSCRIBE here. If you?re already subscribed and on the private RSS feed, the podcast logo should appear GOLD & WHITE.

Sam Harris speaks with Robert Plomin about the role that DNA plays in determining who we are. They discuss the birth of behavioral genetics, the taboo around studying the influence of genes on human psychology, controversies surrounding the topic of group differences, the first law of behavior genetics, heritability, nature and nurture, the mystery of unshared environment, the way genes help determine a person?s environment, epigenetics, the genetics of complex traits, dimensions vs disorders, the prospect of a GATTACA-like dystopia and genetic castes, heritability and equality of opportunity, the implications of genetics for parenting and education, DNA as a fortune-telling device, and other topics.

Robert Plomin is MRC Research Professor in Behavioral Genetics at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King?s College London and has previously taught at the University of Colorado Boulder and at Pennsylvania State University. He has received lifetime research achievement awards from the major associations related to his field (Behavior Genetics Association, Association of Psychological Science, Society for Research in Child Development, International Society for Intelligence Research), as well as being made Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, British Academy, American Academy of Political and Social Science, and Academy of Medical Sciences (UK).

Robert?s latest book, Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are, makes the case that DNA inherited from our parents at the moment of conception can predict our psychological strengths and weaknesses.

Website: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/people/robert-plomin

 

Episodes that have been re-released as part of the Best of Making Sense series may have been edited for relevance since their original airing.

If the Best Of Making Sense podcast logo in your player is BLACK & WHITE, you can SUBSCRIBE to gain access to all full-length episodes at samharris.org/subscribe.

2022-09-19
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#209 ? A Good Life

Sam Harris speaks with Scott Barry Kaufman about human well-being. They discuss intelligence and creativity, wisdom and transcendence, the history of humanistic psychology, Maslow?s hierarchy of needs, the connection between well-being and ethics, self-esteem, psychedelics and meditation, peak and plateau experiences, mortality salience, the pre-trans fallacy, intrinsic vs. extrinsic rewards, pathological altruism, intimacy vs. belonging, two aspects of self-transcendence, and other topics.

Scott Barry Kaufman is a humanistic psychologist exploring the depths of human potential. He has taught courses at the nation?s leading universities including Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, and New York University. He wrote the column Beautiful Minds for Scientific American and hosts The Psychology Podcast, which discusses insights into the mind, brain, behavior, and creativity. He has also written for The Atlantic and Harvard Business Review.

Scott?s latest book Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization is a reimagining of Maslow?s famous hierarchy of needs. It provides new insights for realizing one?s full potential and living a creative, fulfilled, and connected life. His previous books include Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, and Twice Exceptional: Supporting and Educating Bright and Creative Students with Learning Difficulties. Scott is also credited for editing The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence.

SUBSCRIBE to listen to the rest of this episode and gain access to all full-length episodes of the podcast at samharris.org/subscribe.

Episodes that have been re-released as part of the Best of Making Sense series may have been edited for relevance since their original airing.

2022-09-12
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