• Sam Harris, Maryam Namazie and Criticizing One’s Ideological Allies

    When I first considered weighing in on the frustrating debate between Sam Harris and Maryam Namazie, I intended to try and rationalize the latter’s atrocious response to feedback on Twitter. After all, criticism undoubtedly feels more severe when you have tens of thousands of followers. If I write something contentious, I’m likely to hear from no more than half a dozen aggrieved readers. For someone like Namazie, clicking on her notifications must be the social media equivalent of the Normandy landings. And no matter how politely you word the tweet, your opinion is a snowflake within an avalanche of negative feedback.

    Inevitably, some of that feedback will be truly hostile. Even if 90 percent is civil, it’s tarnished by 10 percent of pernicious nonsense. It doesn’t matter that you were cordial or presented a sound argument. You ultimately agree with those bigots on this issue, and there is insufficient time to parse every response. As a result, the recipient’s first instinct isn’t to be fair to those polite people who agree, however narrowly, with the knuckle-dragging idiots hurling sexist and racist abuse.

    As I said at the outset, the above defense was going to be the thrust of my post. However, my feelings have evolved over the past several days. While everything I said in the first couple of paragraphs is true, at some point it ceases to be an excuse for behaviour that continues to be egregious. If you exported the recent content of Namazie’s Twitter onto Nathan Lean’s timeline, very few tweets would look out of place. She has accused her critics—as a group—of racism, misogyny, and guilt by association. I don’t give Lean a pass when he makes similar noises, so it would be hypocritical to absolve Namazie of blame. Here are just a few of her many tweets and approving retweets about her critics.

    Despite repeatedly claiming to only see individuals, she continues to make nasty generalizations about critics of her appearance on the Waking Up podcast. Despite stating that Harris is only responsible for his own words, she has associated him with every ugly tweet directed at her. Despite bemoaning the deeds of the far left, she is currently guilty of precisely the same thing. I rationalized Namazie’s ill-tempered response to Quilliam’s appointment of Adam Deen as their Head of Outreach, but it is simply indefensible to continually ignore her petulant behaviour.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge my recent exchange with Amir Pars—someone similarly worthy of admiration. I politely questioned his claim that “atheist fanboys” represent the worst of Twitter. It’s fair to say Pars didn’t appreciate my perspective. He responded with all the equanimity of Joe Pesci in a Scorsese movie, before blocking me for querying the reasoning behind his claim. It took all of three contrary tweets for him to permanently retreat from the discussion. The silver lining to all of this is that the whole episode has alerted me to a bias I wasn’t conscious of having. Specifically, I am much more forgiving of people on the left when they express ignorance or act in bad faith.

    When Milo Yiannopoulos agrees with me on an issue, I am never in any doubt that our worldviews could scarcely be further apart. Consequently, I don’t hesitate to criticize him when he inevitably says something profoundly stupid. I should be equally critical of liberals. Endorsing terms like “the regressive left” shouldn’t give anyone license to behave appallingly, yet I don’t think I’m the only one who is hesitant to criticize individuals who agree with me on a pet issue. We only do ourselves a disservice when we fail to be even-handed.

    Category: AtheismFeaturedSecularismSkepticismSocial Justice

    Article by: James MacDonald

    James MacDonald is a freelance writer and featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. In addition to sports writing, James holds masters degrees in both Psychology and Social Sciences and covers subjects including sex, gender, secularism, media, and gaming, among others.
    • I found that podcast endlessly frustrating. Sam and Maryam went around in circles and for the most part failed to drill down to a particular set of well-formed propositions upon which they clearly disagree.

      ETA: And unsurprisingly enough, Twitter isn’t clarifying.

    • Mind-Forged Manacles

      I didn’t bother getting into that interaction with those 2, as I’m not particularly a fan of either one. However, Harris’ support of both ethnic profiling and “anti-profiling” don’t make any security sense, frankly. No need to take my word for it, check out Harris’ email exchange with security expert, Bruce Schneier:

      https://www.samharris.org/blog/item/to-profile-or-not-to-profile

      • He supports profiling everything. I’m not convinced Harris is right about profiling, but “ethnic profiling” doesn’t really capture his view.

        I don’t think the Namazie podcast went anywhere. The subsequent fallout has been more enlightening.

        • Mind-Forged Manacles

          No no, he supports ethnic profiling too, by his own admission:

          “It is not enough for moderate Muslims to say “not in our name.” They must now police their own communities. They must offer unreserved assistance to western governments in locating the extremists in their midst. They must tolerate, advocate, and even practice ethnic profiling. It is simply a fact that the greatest predictor of terrorist behavior anywhere in the world (with the exception of the island Sri Lanka) is whether or not a person believes that Allah is the only god and Muhammad is his prophet. Moderate Muslims themselves must acknowledge this fact without equivocation.”
          “Bombing Our Illusions” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/bombing-our-illusions_b_8615.html)

          There are things it makes sense to profile (behavior), as it’s harder to control, while other things (ethnicity, skin color, gender, etc.) make little sense to profile in many contexts, as would-be terrorists can find those who don’t fit the profile.

          • Yes, ethnic profiling is part of what he advocates. It’s not all he advocates. It’s a combination of various factors. If it was purely ethnic, he wouldn’t fit the profile (which he does).

            • Mind-Forged Manacles

              I didn’t say he only supports ethnic profiling, by he’s denied supporting it elsewhere, saying he only supports an anti-profiling (which makes even less security sense). If the proposal comes down to not giving extra attention to “obvious non-Jihadis”, then terrorists are simply going to find people who are part of the so-called “obvious non-Jihadis”. It’s a recipe for disaster. If the “anti-profile” is so large that it encompasses Harris and everyone else, it’s not saving us any resources nor is it making us safer.

              I know you said you aren’t necessarily convinced by Harris’ proposals, but I think he’s total reliance (in his exchange with Schneier) on “common sense” and intuitions” are unscientific & dangerous, given the totality of what he’s calling for.

            • I’ve only ever seen him deny it as an accurate summary of his views. For example, during his televised exchange with Dean Obeidallah. He freely admits that’s part of it, but he objects when people boil his entire view down to ethnic profiling. He’s basically in favour of the El Al approach.

              Even if it’s effective (and it may not be), I’m not convinced of its net benefit. Putting aside whether it’s even fair, it could conceivably lead to more tribalism. The last thing we want is to alienate moderate Muslims and have them reflexively side with extremists. That’s already a common occurrence, and it could easily be made worse.

            • Mind-Forged Manacles

              Well in his discussion with Schneier, Harris says “As you know, I’m not recommending ‘strong profiling'”, but the paper Schneier linked (which Harris was responding to) included ethnicity in its definition of “strong profiling”. El Al does many things, but it’s not something that could ever be scaled into the U.S. Unless I’m mistaken, the largest Israeli aiport is Ben Gurion International Airport, and that’s a bit smaller than even our small regional airports, such as one in Sacremento. So looking at the Israeli approach isn’t gonna solve much of anything, imo.

              Yea, exactly. For me it’s a no-brainer: If ethnic profiling doesn’t work (and it doesn’t seem to: http://www.pnas.org/content/106/6/1716.full ), and “anti-profiling” doesn’t give us better security or greater efficiency, it seems all this approach would do is alienate Muslims.

            • Yes, but that doesn’t mean his issue with strong profiling was that particular aspect of it. It’s really not an opinion he hides from. He only objects to his entire view being boiled down to it. There are issues I disagree with Harris on, but he’s unfailingly honest. Occasionally to his own cost.

              You won’t get any significant push back from me on whether profiling is viable. I’m genuinely agnostic on that issue.

            • Mind-Forged Manacles

              Well I don’t see any difference between their definition and Harris’ stated position. Here’s how the paper they referenced defines “strong profiling:

              “Societal resources for secondary security screening are then concentrated against individuals with the largest priors…”
              […]
              “Racial profiling, as commonly defined (5), is one such actuarial method. It occurs when an individual’s prior is explicitly conditioned on his or her race, ethnicity, nationality, or religion. What distinguishes racial profiling, and actuarial methods generally, from investigational methods often perceived as more acceptable is that the prior probabilities are associated with the individual a priori, and not associated with evidence of any actual criminal conduct.”

              You say you’re agnostic on this issue, and that’s fine. I’m not sure Harris is “unfailingly dishonest”, as he’s also said he’s agnostic on the profiling issue (despite clearly advocating for his view).

            • When did he say he was agnostic on profiling?

            • Mind-Forged Manacles

              I believe it was in his exchange with Kyle of SecularTalk. I’ll try to find the timestamp.

            • josh

              Ummm, that link is about the mathematically optimal way to profile. It says nothing about “ethnic” profiling specifically and it demonstrates that profiling can work with various assumptions.

            • Mind-Forged Manacles

              “It says nothing about ‘ethnic’ profiling specifically and demonstrates profiling can work with various assumptions.”

              Profiling includes many different things, so of course some kinds of profiling can work (behavioral profiling for instance). The point is whether or not ethnic profiling at airports makes any security sense.

              Yes, the link is about what’s mathematically (not practically) optimal. However, to claim it says nothing about ethnic profiling is hilarious. To quote the link:

              “The use of profiling by ethnicity or nationality to trigger secondary security screening is a controversial social and political issue. Overlooked is the question of whether such actuarial methods are in fact mathematically justified, even under the most idealized assumptions of completely accurate prior probabilities, and secondary screenings concentrated on the highest-probablity individuals. We show here that strong profiling (defined as screening at least in proportion to prior probability) is no more efficient than uniform random sampling of the entire population, because resources are wasted on the repeated screening of higher probability, but innocent, individuals.”

              “Societal resources for secondary security screening are then concentrated against individuals with the largest priors. We may call this “strong profiling” if the concentration is at least proportional to pj for the largest values of pj.”

              “In general, police strategies that use such priors are termed actuarial methods (4). Racial profiling, as commonly defined (5), is one such actuarial method. It occurs when an individual’s prior is explicitly conditioned on his or her race, ethnicity, nationality, or religion. What distinguishes racial profiling, and actuarial methods generally, from investigational methods often perceived as more acceptable is that the prior probabilities are associated with the individual a priori, and not associated with evidence of any actual criminal conduct.”

              “The reason that this strong profiling strategy is inefficient is that, on average, it keeps retesting the same innocent individuals who happen to have large pj values. The optimal strategy is optimal precisely because it avoids this oversampling.”

              What is most mathematically optimal (“secondary screenings distributed broadly, although not uniformly, over the population” and random sampling according to the paper) is not something we would ever likely be able to implement in the real world. Many things fail to scale to a useful level, and ethnic profiling doesn’t seem to work either way.

            • josh

              To use this article as an argument for or against ethnic profiling is “hilarious”. All it notes is that ethnicity could in principle be a piece of information used to determine the prior probability. Given that probability it tells you how to optimize the search. Note that “strong” profiling so defined has nothing at all to do with the information used to profile. Is this point that hard to grasp?

              Now I agree with you that there are various arguments that could be made about why the theoretical assumptions of the model won’t hold up in the real world, and there are ethical arguments you could make about not doing it even if it works in principle, but that link in no way shows that ethnic profiling doesn’t work. (Incidentally, it’s also not clear to me that Harris is for “ethnic” profiling. )

              N.B.-It may help you to note that I said “ethnic profiling specifically” to indicate that ethnic profiling wasn’t singled out as a good or bad option and the paper makes no relevant distinctions about ethnic profiling. I didn’t mean “the word ethnic doesn’t appear in the paper”, which is the point you seem to think you are refuting.

            • Johnny Wong

              I’ve notice people have claimed that Harris thinks he fits the profile. Let’s review what he wrote

              ‘Although I don’t think I look like a jihadi, or like a man pretending
              not to be one, I do not mean to suggest that a person like me should be
              exempt from scrutiny. But other travelers fit the profile far less than I do’

              https://www.samharris.org/blog/item/in-defense-of-profiling

              So, he understands we have limited resources etc and time, and he doesn’t think we should waste resources on people who clearly aren’t jihadis. He doesn’t think he fits the profile, but he thinks we should waste scrutiny on him?

            • He *does* think he fits the profile. He has said so repeatedly. He even goes on to clarify that point further in the post you linked:

              “And, again, I wouldn’t put someone who looks like me entirely outside the bull’s-eye (after all, what would Adam Gadahn look like if he cleaned himself up?) But there are people who do not stand a chance of being jihadists, and TSA screeners can know this at a glance.”

              “When I speak of profiling “Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim,” I am not narrowly focused on people with dark skin. In fact, I included myself in the description of the type of person I think should be profiled (twice).”

              His point is that while he might not look like jihadi, he cannot be obviously ruled out. However, some people *can* obviously be ruled out. He has made this point ad nauseam.

              You can agree or not agree with his view, but it doesn’t help to misrepresent his position.

            • Johnny Wong

              “I don’t think I look like a jihadi, or like a man pretending not to be one”

              You’re right mate. Whenever I think I fit a profile of a jihadi, or like a man pretending not to be one, I’ll make this very clear by saying that I don’t think I look like a jihadi, or like a man pretending not to be one.

            • Did you bother to read the rest of the post or any of a dozen subsequent interviews in which he says he does fit the profile? He doesn’t think he looks like a jihadi, but he can’t *obviously* be ruled out. Some people can obviously be ruled out.

              Why is that point so difficult to grasp?

            • Johnny Wong

              You’re misrepresenting him as now he thinks

              “I’m as likely as almost anyone, based on appearance, to be the next suicide bomber.”

              https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/what-i-really-think-about-profiling

              That’s a hell of a jump from

              “I don’t think I look like a jihadi, or like a man pretending not to be one”

            • OK, let’s try this. What do you think is more likely?

              A. Sam Harris doesn’t think he fits the profile.

              B. Sam Harris does think he fits the profile, as he has said countless times (including the initial essay), and you have simply misinterpreted a single sentence.

              The answer should be obvious.

            • Johnny Wong

              C. Sam Harris doesn’t think he fits the profile (as he clearly says), but reluctantly includes himself as someone who should not escape scrutiny to appear fair, then shifts the goalposts.

            • I can see you’re determined to establish sinister intent. I’ll leave you to it.

            • Johnny Wong

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gtjN88HUo8

              ‘Somebody who looks like Osama bin Laden’.

              What could this mean? But, of course, it means people who look like Sam Harris

    • Avi Burstein

      Regardless of Harris’s exact views on profiling, the fact that people make such a big deal about it reveals to me that they view the profiling issue with more of a dogmatic approach than a rational one. Schneier disagrees with Harris on his profiling stance because he thinks it’s *bad security*, not because it’s some sort of evil, bigoted approach. But the opprobrium that the Left heaps on Sam for his profiling position reveals that their opposition to it is because they think it exposes him as some anti-Muslim bigot, which he clearly is not. He is taking that approach because he thinks it ensures better security, not because he thinks all Muslims are terrorists.

      • Precisely. You can follow every step of Harris’ argument and disagree with him without having to assume he’s motivated by bigotry. Whether you agree or disagree with his view on profiling, his reasoning is plain to see.

        • Mind-Forged Manacles

          The problem is his reasoning. It’s motivated towards a particular conclusion. That’s my point.

          • That’s an assumption. Many people, including me, can follow his reasoning without seeing bigotry. In fact, it utterly escapes me that you can’t see his reasoning.

            • Mind-Forged Manacles

              I can see his reasoning; it’s generally bad. The reason it’s often bad is because he’s arguing towards conclusions he already held as being obviously true, thus hardly in need of reflection.

            • You continually make baseless assertions. You cannot know his motivations. If you think his reasoning is poor, that’s a case you can make. However, blindly asserting that you know his intentions is simply nonsense. Making that leap says far more about your ideological bias than his.

            • Mind-Forged Manacles

              Assertions with justification are by definition not baseless. I’ve made the case that his reasoning is poor (such as on profiling) and that his method of justifying his assertions are awful. I’ve said nothing blind, though I think it’s ironic that you make the leap to saying it’s all ideological bias on my own part.

          • Avi Burstein

            The conclusion his reasoning is motivated towards is increased security. What is wrong with that?

            • Mind-Forged Manacles

              No, the conclusion his reasoning is constantly motivated towards is seeing Muslim extremists as such a problem that drastic action must be taken (even in areas he has no particular knowledge of), and that even non-extremists Muslims must pay. “Islam is all fringe and no center”, after all.

        • ThePrussian

          @theflyingscotsman:disqus, “you” can only do that if you’re not a lefty. I’ve wondered about this for a decade, about how it is next to impossible to have a reasonable disagreement with the left without being called a RACISTSEXISTHOMOPHOBETRANSPHOBEXENOPHOBEHATER – and it finally dawned on me, while reading Gramsci (yes, I see the irony).

          The left’s ideology is that anyone on the left is naturally so pure that anything they do is, at worst, mistaken, and usually praiseworthy. Conversely, anyone who disagrees with the left on anything is evil. We think you’re wrong; you think we’re monsters. So you get the same people happy to make excuses for HAMAS, Saddam Hussain or Hezbollah going apeshit over normal centre rightists – or even flamboyant libertarians like dear Milo.

          I write this not as a criticism but as a warning. If you persist in trying to say that people should argue decently with Sam Harris, you’ll find yourself chased out of the left in short order.

      • Mind-Forged Manacles

        The problem is that Harris didn’t get to this view through any particularly rational means. If one were honest in assessing the strength of their policy proposals, they’d take a look at the academic literature on the topic. Harris, on practically every topic, refuses (or fails) to do this (on free will, ethics, the causes of terrorism, etc.). If you pay attention to the Schneuer exchange, you cannot honestly disagree that Harris kept ultimately relying on “common sense” and “intuition” to back up his suggestions for airport security.

        The reason I lean more towards him being bigoted on this matter is entirely separate from my criticisms of his ridiculous views. The former is, in my case, concluded because of the latter. If he can repeatedly enter exchanges with people who actually know something on the topic (Schneier on security, Atran on terrorism, etc.), and yet virtually never show an evolution in viewpoint, it’s perfectly reasonable to think he’s dogmatic in coming down on a particular position. In this (and other) cases, it happens to be against Muslims for largely unscientific (if not anti-scientific) reasons.

        • Avi Burstein

          I’d agree that an unchanging perspective can (but not necessarily) indicate dogmatism, but it doesn’t indicate bigotry. One may well blindly stick to their intuition because they trust that more than an expert’s conclusion. Sam has a perfectly understandable logic to his position, and it isn’t based on anti-Muslim bigotry. His logic may indeed be wrong, and if so, his failing to see his error would be an intellectual failing, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bigot.

          • Mind-Forged Manacles

            The problem with logic is that it’s basically just scaffolding, it tells you nothing about how the world actually is by itself. As a example:

            1) Design implies a designer.

            1.1) Designers are sentient.

            2) Intuitively, living things show the markers of design.

            3) Therefore, living things have a sentient designer.

            This is obviously logically valid, but it’s falsified by the world, according to the overwhelming number of experts. Am I rational in rejecting the expert opinion because I trust my intuition more? Hell no, it’s irrational to do so. I can understand Harris’ logic; the problem is that it’s unsound (or at the very least, highly contestable empirically). To me, the inability to change, and to constantly come to the same sort of conclusion about a particular group of people, seems like bigotry.

            I could be wrong, but Harris seems to have a massive confirmation bias for reasons I cannot see. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

        • You’re acting as though Harris is approaching these issues with an ideological bias, while you’re approaching them as a blank slate. What’s more, these people aren’t the only “experts” in their field (and I hesitate to call Atran an expert). If I present you with an opposing view from an expert, would it be intellectually dishonest for you to not change your mind? There isn’t something akin to scientific consensus that Sam is railing against. So-called experts often disagree.

          I would also love to hear a coherent argument in support of free will. That you think Dennett (presumably) offered a compelling argument is, again, beyond me. The argument against free will is trivially easy to make. You literally have to redefine free will, as Dennett does, in order to preserve it.

          • Mind-Forged Manacles

            No, I’m acting as though Harris is arguing towards a predetermined conclusion. I’m certainly not approaching this as a blank slate. Given my intuition, I’d have assumed that ethnic profiling was perfectly sensible to prevent Islamic terrorism. But as it happens, that’s most likely wrong. The difference is that I’m not broadcasting to 100s of thousands of followers my intuitive views. I’m not refusing to do the research required to even attempt such a thing, when dangerous dogmatism is the likely result of an intellectual celebrity of sorts.

            I never said they were the only experts in their fields. But that’s exactly the point. In addressing virtually any criticism of anything he says, Harris doesn’t rely on other expert views. What experts did Harris cite to justify he out of hand rejection of Atran’s almost unmathced research (in terms of scope) on the causes/correlations of terrorists? Who did Harris cite to justify his support and advocacy of profiling (both before and after his exchange with Schneier)? Why did Harris outright say in his “The Moral Landscape” that he wasn’t going to address/test his argument against the academic literature on ethics and meta-ethics? This is a consistent problem, and it’s the obligation of so-called intellectuals to have a level of rigor that Harris has never displayed. It’s absurd, frankly. The problem isn’t that Harris has to change his view anytime an expert disagrees. The problem is he virtually never changes his stated views on these topics, or even has some sort of evolution on them (or at least never displays such an evolution). This is almost always the sign of a dogmatist.

            You claim the argument against free will is trivially easy to make, presumably along the same lines as Harris makes. Take a look at Dennett’s analysis of Harris’ own work, and I doubt your “trivially easy” arguments hold any non-superficial merit. It’s not mere redefinition, as our intuitive notion of free will is not a single cohesive concept, and is often molded by context. This is an areas where both you and Harris haven’t taken the time to actually think about the issue. In fact, the very fact that about 60% of philosophers hold to compatibilism shows that the position is far from trivially easy to refute.

            • You and I are just too far apart on these issues. If I tackled every point you raised, I’d end up debating you for hours. Suffice to say, outlining an argument doesn’t require that one cite an authority, nor do you need to cite an expert in order to disagree with the conclusions drawn by Atran. There are many authorities on any given subject and they very often disagree. Citing one that agrees with you is meaningless. An argument should stand on its own.

              And I’m sorry, but telling me that I haven’t taken the time to think about the issue of free will is an absurd assumption. You have no idea how much time I’ve spent on any issue, so blindly asserting that I haven’t thought about the arguments has no basis in fact. You are asserting something that you cannot possibly know is true.

              I can disagree with you without declaring that you haven’t put any thought into your positions. And I know Dennett’s position. I’ve watched his talks and read his views. I am not a compatibilist, and my perspective isn’t exactly unique. I guess we all just need to give it more thought, though. Sigh.

            • Mind-Forged Manacles

              I’m not asking you to debate every point. I’m giving examples, lest people say I’m making baseless accusations. It’s imperative to cite experts when discussing and promoting one’s views to scores of people. Doing otherwise is intellectually and morally irresponsible on the part of anyone of that standing. Arguments don’t stand on their own, sadly. Arguments use logic, logic is merely structuring for what follows from what. By itself, logic tells you *nothing* about how the world itself is. And experts in the relevant field are the best place to go in order to get accurate pictures of how the world (probably) is.

              Okay, let’s revise that. Have you thought about the issue of free will? In other words, what sorts of literature did you read both for and against your position? Has anything Harris has written indicated that he has done so? Do you really think that “trivially easy” objections have not already been contested by people who have been debating it for centuries? If not, then your claims are, a fortiori, baseless. On contentious issues, even for conclusions I believe are obvious, I would never say that those conclusions are trivially easy to demonstrate. That’s both patronizing to others and almost always reflects a lack of self-awareness.

              Of course we all need to give it more though. Except Sam Harris of course!

            • Arguments do stand on their own.The views of experts are very often different. Being active in a field does not mean that every sentence you utter on a subject is sound. Heck, there are countless polls that contradict Atran’s research. There are former extremists who contradict his research, and Sam does cite those.

              Yes, I have obviously thought about free will. I’m familiar with the arguments against my position, and I’m very familiar with compatibilism. I’m not going to get into a debate on free will, though. Been there, done that. My sanity barely survived engaging on that issue the first ten times.

              The arguments appear trivially easy to me, and I’m sure you feel the same about your own view, given that just assumed I’d arrived at my conclusion as a result of intellectual laziness. We can both play at this game. With these debates having raged for centuries, it seems odd that my (far from uncommon) position confounds you.

              Anyway, let’s knock this on the head. I find it difficult to drag myself away from online debates. (In my best Bill O’Reilly impression) I’ll let you have the last word, go ahead.

            • Mind-Forged Manacles

              You can say arguments stand on their own, but they don’t. What is an argument? A set of related assertions. They aren’t self-justified, and the world can falsify them. It also seems unwise to try to the accounts of a few individual former extremists to Atran’s body of research. His research certainly isn’t incontestable, but throwing out Nawaz’s experience (for instance) is hardly a refutation. Nawaz isn’t an expert on the topic in any meaningful sense.

              As I said, I would never say (on controversial issues) that my position is trivially easy to prove. It’s not that your position confounds me, it’s that it (likely) goes along the same line as Harris in his book “Free Will”: Making assumptions about how people think about free will that is hardly certain (http://philpapers.org/archive/NADSFF.pdf), failing to realize why the concept of free will is so murky (partly religious history), etc. I could be wrong, but it seemed like the same reason Harris thinks the debate is easily settled.

              Anyway, I’m done. 😛

          • The phrase “free will” is notoriously polysemous from the start. Nothing wrong with excluding the silly meanings and focusing on the coherent ones.

            • Just when I thought I was out, Damion pulls me back in.

              I must be strong here, good sir. If I engage on this topic, the next thing I know four days will have passed, and I’ll emerge from my house looking and smelling like an extra from The Walking Dead.

            • Not seeing a problem, so long as you’re housebound of your own free will.

    • ThePrussian

      Maryam Namazie has one of the most unpleasant personalities I have ever come across. She does this all the time – she slimes and smears anyone who disagrees with her as basically a Nazi and a racist. Then she turns around and whines that lefties do the same thing to her

      Her attitude is rich coming from a self-proclaimed Communist – i.e. someone whose principle complaint about a culture of stoning and beheading is that it stands in the way of a culture of slave camps and mass famine.

      Cheap shot? It’s more of a factually based cheap shot than Namazie ever deals out to those who disagree with her.