After hearing the Theories of
Everything Part 1 and Part 2, everyone got suuuuuuper jealous that
Hunter was getting Spiros all to himself. In the spirit of Mixed
Mental Arts, Hunter decided to share Spiros with Dave Colan, Cate
Fogarty, Andrew Hunter and Christopher Leon Price.
Continuing off from the last
conversation, Spiros unpacks how he thinks of truth in thinking
about physical reality. Then, Dave Colan (after struggling to
remember Sam Harris' name) brings up Sam's recent comments about
Hunter on the Joe Rogan Experience. Sam's comments prove to be an
excellent teaching opportunity because they reveal the sort of
theories we form about other people based on limited and
emotionally provocative evidence.
The whole point that I (Hunter) was
trying to clumsily make on Joe Rogan was that because of the Dunbar
Number most humans are an abstraction. We have to stereotype. The
question is what we stereotype around. Spending time at Oaks
Christian, it was clear that the stereotype people had of
scientists was formed around people like Sam Harris and Richard
Dawkins was formed around people who insulted beliefs they did not
understand. In fact, I came to realize that Jesus Christ was a
better neuroscientist than Sam Harris which you can read about
Now, Sam has proved my point. He has
formed an opinion about me based on very limited evidence and his
feeeeeeeeeelings about me. It's an amazing demonstration of
#DescartesError and the #DunbarNumber. Is the model that Sam Harris
laid out of Hunter Maats a good model of me? Well, I'll leave that
for you to judge. But take a look at what he has said here
For regular listeners to Mixed Mental
Arts, you'll see that while Sam's impression of me is perfectly
understandable that it's a great example of what Spiros talks about
with "truncate and renormalize." Sam has a truncated data set
around who I am and that he has then renormalized around that very
limited data. Can he justify his impression? Of course! He can
point to that very limited amount of information and justify his
And yet, there's other data. There's
over 200 episodes of Bryan and me interviewing hundreds of
different scientists and then synthesizing those ideas together
into a coherent worldview. Sam Harris has said I'm wrong about the
"relevant biology." That's a huge problem. Whether I'm wrong or he
is doesn't much matter. What matters is that the "relevant biology"
has become so overcomplicated and atomized that either me (a
Harvard biochemistry grad who has interviewed hundreds of
scientists) or him (a neuroscience PhD) don't understand the
"relevant biology." If we can't figure it out, then it's no wonder
science can't win the public over. Science needs to figure out and
present a coherent worldview in order to effectively win people
over. The #MarchForScience is a nice show of support...but which
science are these people in favor of? Is it rationalism or
intuitionism? Is it the multi-level selection of David Sloan
Wilson, Jon Haidt and Joe Henrich or the gene-centric model of
Dawkins and Harris? And, more basically, what is science anyway?
Because it's clear that Spiros, Jon Haidt and me are operating on a
very different understanding of what science is than Sam Harris
Sam Harris has painted a picture of
religious people with statistics that is actually a terrible model
of who they actually are. I'm an apatheist. I don't really care
about God. I don't go to Church or Mosque. I care about practically
improving people's lives using whatever tools are available. And
that's why I'd moved on from Sam Harris and was focused on making
Smart Go Pop
Brentwood Boy got so emotional about the whole thing that he
couldn't help saying Candyman five times. As Cate Fogarty points
out in this article
, I was just
doing exactly what Joe Rogan did with Carlos Mencia. I was calling
out someone who was hurting the community. Why does Joe defend Sam?
Because Joe has feeeeeeeeeelings about Sam that cause him to value
defending his friend over examining the evidence impartially. Sam
Harris is Joe Rogan's sacred cow. And that's okay. That's the way
humans work. All of us. You, me, New Atheists and old school Arabs.
And if we want to have a better world, then we all have to stop
pretending like we have it all figured out and start reflecting on
the problems in our own culture and do the difficult work of
self-reflection and calling out the Fundamentalists who have
wrapped themselves in the flag of our cherished causes.
As I've covered in earlier episodes,
the challenge for people is to spot who is and who is not a
Fundamentalist and to see who preaches our values but doesn't
actually practice them. Joe Rogan's defense of Sam Harris will
reveal before this community just how hard this is. Thank you, Sam
Harris! You're the best. You beautifully proved my point and have
created the social drama that will drive attention to the
Don't believe me. Decide for
yourself. That's what science is about. It's not about authority or
Harvard or PhDs. It's about forming better Theories of Everything
by breaking your old theories to make room for better and better
People do that all the time with TV
shows. Look at Game of Thrones. People had theories about whether
Jon Snow was dead. Then, they were confronted with the evidence of
the next season. Many theories died and people moved on. You can't
break your old theories unless you're exposed to the evidence and
you can't be exposed to the evidence if the people who are the
public faces of science don't tell you about it.
That's why Mixed Mental Arts has
branded an alternative to The Four Horsemen. We call it The Holy
Trinity of Cultural Evolution. They present newer and much more
powerful Theories of Everything.
WE DO NOT WANT YOU TO BELIEVE
That's not what science is about.
It's not about human authority. It's about the evidence. So,
examine it and draw your own conclusions and then let's hash them
out and see if we can all evolve better Theories of Everything
The internet is our intellectual
thunderdome. Sam Harris just dragged his public persona into the
arena when he said I was wrong about the "relevant biology." May
the best ideas win.
Two ideas enter. One idea leaves.
Idea dying time is here.
In other news, Spiros is now going to
be taking any and all questions and answering them for you through
Mixed Mental Arts. Send questions to @quantum_spiros! Also send him
requests for more 80's cartoon theme songs in Greek.
Love to all humanity - Toto