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Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson Vancouver Night 2 Transcript

The following is a transcription of the talk that Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris had in Vancouver. This is the second night in vancouver. You can find the video HERE.




Travis Pangburn:    00:00:02       Gather together for Bret Weinstein, Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson.

Brett Weinstein:    00:00:44       Alright, so we have an interesting situation here. Um, obviously this is part two and a few of you were here for what took place last night. We're going to find a way to catch you all up pretty quick on what took place, but before we do that, I thought it might make sense to talk to you about where we are in this discussion and why it matters and it matters not just for those of us on stage, but it matters very much for you all in the audience. The point is basically this, we've arrived at a place in history where the sensemaking apparatus, that usually helps us figure out what to think about. Things has obviously begun to come apart. The political parties, the, uh, the university's journalism. All of these things have stopped making sense and alternative sensemaking networks have begun to rise.

Brett Weinstein:    00:01:33       And the one that we ended up being a part of seems to be beating the odds with respect to staying alive and being a vibrant part of the conversation. But that depends on something. It depends on our ability to upgrade, what we can discuss and navigate, and Sam and Jordan have run afoul of each other in the past, as you all know. And so our ability to upgrade the conversation such that they're able to find common ground and for us to move forward together is potentially very important. A very important upgrade. Now that upgrade in the modern era includes you all because our conversation and your conversations are all now linked through the Internet. So the ground rules for tonight involve. You not filming what takes place on stage tonight. And the reason for that is because what takes place on stage tonight has consequences and the freer that Sam and Jordan feel to use new tools to try out positions that maybe they haven't explored before.

Brett Weinstein:    00:02:39       The more likely we are to succeed. So please don't film, but that does not mean that we don't want you talking about what was discussed here tonight. In fact, we're very excited to see what you all make of this conversation and where it heads. So in an effort to, uh, to get you up to speed on where we got yesterday, I think the evidence is strong, we all felt and the discussion online suggests that we actually accomplished quite a bit yesterday that we made headway in an effort to attempt to keep that momentum going. But we're going to do is we're going to have sam and Jordan Steel man each other's points from last night so that you can hear what that sounds like. Now, for those of you who have ever tried steel manning somebody point with whom you have a severe disagreement, you know, just how hard this is. So let's give them some leeway. A, Sam, would you be willing to start?

Sam Harris:         00:03:41       Sure, sure.

Sam Harris:         00:03:44       Thank you.

Sam Harris:         00:03:48       Well, first, let me just make the obvious point that that probably isn't so obvious once you take the time to put yourself in our shoes. But just imagine how surreal it is for us to be who we are. Simply having a conversation about ideas and to be able to put a date on the calendar and have all of you show up for this. I mean, it's just an amazing privilege. Okay, thank you for coming out.

Sam Harris:         00:04:17       So, so here is what I think Jordan, thinks I'm getting wrong. I think that was grammatically correct. Maybe there's another note in there, but clearly I don't understand how valuable stories are, how deep they go, how did the degree to which stories encode, not only the wisdom of our ancestors, but quite possibly the wisdom borne of the hard knocks of evolution of the species. Right? So there's no telling how deep the significance of the information encoded in stories goes. And there's a class of stories that are religious stories and their religious for a reason because they're dealing with the deepest questions in human life. There questions about what constitutes a good life, what's worth living for, what's worth dying for ; these are things that if each individual just thrust from onto the stage of his own life not knowing where he is and tasked with figuring out how to live all on his own, or even in a collection of others who are similarly unguided by ancient wisdom. This is not knowledge we can recapitulate for ourselves easily and so we we edit or ignore these ancient stories at our peril, at some, at minimum, at some considerable risk because we don't know how much we don't really know what baby is in the bath water and so we should have immense respect for these traditions and the this is what will this has yet to be discovered tonight. I'm still not quite clear about how this links up with with more metaphysical propositions about the origins of these, of certain, of these stories, but at minimum my criticism of religion because it tends to focus on the most obvious case of of a zero sum contest between religious dogmatism and scientific open ended discussion is doesn't address this core issue of the significance of religious thinking and religious narrative because I am, for the most part, just shooting fish in a barrel, criticizing fundamentalists and the kind of God that the fundamentalists believe in the God who's an invisible person who hates homosexuals. Obviously that's not the deep, the deepest version of these religious; This essentially is a narrative technology for orienting human life in the cosmos. So maybe I'll leave it there, but that's, I think what Jordan thinks, right?

Brett Weinstein:    00:07:28       Jordan before you steel man Sam's point. How did you feel about his encapsulation of yours?

Jordan Peterson:    00:07:35       I'm convinced man. [Laughter] I mean, well, I got a couple of things to say about it. It's like, first of all, I think it was accurate, concise, fair. Um, I also think that this isn't more technical note in some senses, that if, if you ever want to think about something that's exactly what you have to do, right? You want to take arguments that are against your perspective and you want to make them as strong as you possibly can so that you can fortify your arguments against them. You don't want to make them weak because that just makes you weak. And so, you know, Sam and I are both scientists and it really is the case that what scientists are trying to do. And I think what we're actually trying to do in this conversation genuinely is to try to find out if there's something that we're thinking that's stupid, you know, because when, when I'm laying out the arguments that Sam just summarize so well, I've tried to generate a bunch of opposition to them in my own imagination. And the arguments I put forward are ones I can't undermine. But that doesn't mean they're right. It doesn't mean that at all. And so if someone comes along, and this is certainly the case, if you're a scientist who's worth his or her salt, someone comes along and says, hey look, you made a mistake in this fundamental proposition. It's like, yes, great! That means I can make progress towards a more solid theory of being so. And that's what we're trying to do. And I do think it's working. And so I thought that was just fine. Exactly dead on. And I hope I can do justice to your position as well. So, Okay, so I'm going to summarize Sam's argument briefly and then I'm going to tell him and let you guys know why he thinks I'm not taking into account. So Sam believes that there are two fundamental dangers to psychological and social stability. Um, religious fundamentalism essentially on the right and moral relativism and nihilism on the left. And so the danger of the right wing position is that it enables people to arbitrarily established certain revealed axioms as indisputable truth and then to tyrannize themselves and other people with the claims that those are divine revelations. And he sees that as part of the danger of religious fundamentalism and maybe religious thinking in general, but also as something that characterizes as secular totalitarian states that also has a religious aspect. So that's on the right. And then on the left. Well, the problem with the, with the moral relativism nihilism position is that it leaves us with no orientation and it also flies in the face of common sense observations that there are ways to live that are bad and that there are ways to live that are good, that people can generally agree on, and that statements about those general agreements about how to live can be considered factual. Now so and then the next part of Sam's argument is that we require a value system that allows us to escape these twin dangers. One stultifies us and the other leaves us hopeless, let's say. And that value system has to be grounded in something real. And the only thing that he can see that actually constitutes real in any provable sense and there's a certain amount of historical and conceptual weight behind this claim, is the domain of empirical facts as as they be manifested in the sciences and technologies that have made us incredibly powerful and increasingly able to flourish in the world. And so we need to ground our value propositions in something that we've been able to determine, has genuine solidity to so that we can so that we can orient ourselves properly so that we can make moral claims and that we can avoid these twin dangers.

Jordan Peterson:    00:11:06       We can begin with some basic facts that we can identify, as I mentioned very briefly, what constitutes a bad life, endless pain, suffering, anxiety, tremendous amount of negative emotions, short term lifespan, all the things that no one would choose voluntarily for themselves, if, if we would all agree that they were thinking in a healthy manner and we can contrast that sort of domain of horror with the good life which might involve, well, certainly freedom from privation and want and undo threat and anxiety and hope for the future and all of that. And that we can agree that those are poles: bad and good. And that's a factual claim. So Sam also claims that we can define the good life. This is an extension of it with reference to flourishing and wellbeing and that that can actually be measured and that we should and can inform the idea of flourishing and wellbeing with empirical data. Having said all that, he also leaves what would a domain of inquiry open that would be centered on the possibility that some of the ideas that have been encapsulated in religious phenomenology, if not in religious dogma, might be worth pursuing as well. That there might be wisdom that can practically be applied in terms of perception too, to spiritual practices. Although those become increasingly dangerous as they become ensconced in dogma and so that's Sam's position and then his criticism of my ideas. He would say that it's fact not stories that constitute the ground for the proper science of wellbeing and that we don't need to be connected to stories, ancient stories in particular to thrive and the reason for that or did these ancient stories are pathological in certain details, especially in the specific claims they make up which which looks outrageous in some sense from a modern moral perspective. And he believes that it's hand waving to ignore those specific topics. And with, uh, with uh, what would you call it, an optimistic overview of the entire context that they're dangerously outdated now, if they ever were useful, um, that they're subject to too many potential interpretations for any modern usage to be reliably derived. And so he believes that attempts to interpret these stories, let's say, um, are rife with so many potential errors of bias and interpretation and subjectivity that all the interpretations in some sense are unreliable and perhaps equally unreliable that their day is that worse than that, not only are they unreliable, but they're dangerous in so far as the claims they lay out. They pose, a threat to scientific and enlightenment values, which are the true savers of humanity as evidenced by our progress, let's say over the last two or 300 years. And that they're also susceptible to the totalitarian interpretation, which I described earlier, which confer upon the interpreter a sense of and then a claim to reveal truth. And so I would say that Sam's argument in his hand, his criticisms of my position.

Sam Harris:         00:14:12       Okay, so you write my next book. I'll write yours. [Applause]

Brett Weinstein:    00:14:22       Sam, how do you feel about that characterization of your position?

Sam Harris:         00:14:27       Certainly close enough to get the conversation started. I mean, There's a few. The grounding stuff we have. We have yet to talk about and I'm not as. I'm not as much as stickler for materialistic scientific empiricism as I heard implied there, but we can, we can come to that.

Brett Weinstein:    00:14:44       So hold on. I think from the point of view of the audience, this is a, this is a good barometer of where we got to last and I think actually the gains are really impressive, which I have to say is spooking me because of something called regression to the mean. Now if I catch either one of you regressing to the mean tonight, I will hunt you down and I will ridicule you on twitter tomorrow. So you have been warned. All. Alright. So do either one of you want to now talk about what was missing from the other characterization or how do you want to move?

Sam Harris:         00:15:19       I think we should touch this issue of, of metaphorical truth because I think it still gets at the distance between us. Sure. And happily, this is your phrase that you have, you might want to do. Do you want to prop up this phrase?

Brett Weinstein:    00:15:36       Why not? Um, so the idea of metaphorical truth, which I think actually is the reconciliation between at least the points that you guys each started out with, is the idea that there are concepts which are literally false, that we can falsify in a scientific rational sense, but that if you behave as if they were true, you come out ahead of where you were. If you behave according to the fact that they are false. And so to call these things simply false is an error and affect the universe has left them true in some sense other than a purely literal one. And so religions would then, according to actually what you've heard from both Sam and Jordan, religions would fall into this class of things. These are encapsulations of, uh, stories and prescriptions that if you follow them, irrespective of whether they literally describe the universe, you end up with certain advantages that you may not know why they are there, but nonetheless, you are ahead of your, uh, your, your, your head of your position if you were to navigate just simply on your, your perceptions. So that's the concept.

Sam Harris:         00:16:46       Yeah. So I think there's a good analogy that you and I stumbled onto after we did a podcast together. You had a, an analogy about a porcupine that could shoot its quills which many people balked at, but a listener, he gave us a better one, which was the idea that anyone who's worked with guns at all must have heard this admonishment to treat every gun as if it is loaded. Right? And you actually last night when I alleged that you believed in God, you corrected me. He said, no, you live as if God exists. Right? And so this seems like a, there's a connection here. So if, if, if I had a gun here that I wanted to show Brett, if I know anything about guns, I'm going to make damn sure that is unloaded, right? I'm going to pull back the slide. I'm going to drop the magazine, pulled back the slide, check the chamber and do this in a redundant fashion that really looks like I'm suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. Maybe if it is truly redundant and then I'll hand it to. And Brett knows anything about guns. He will do the same thing, having just seen me do it and if he hands it back to me again, I will do the same thing even though there may be no ammunition around. Right? So it really is crazy at the level of our explicit knowledge of the situation and yet absolutely necessary to do. And it's, it's not merely, it's, it runs very deep. I mean I would even add to that whole time you, you're careful not to point the barrel of the gun at anything. You would be afraid to shoot. And when people fail to live this way around guns, they with some unnerving frequency actually shoot themselves or people close to them by accident. Uh, so it is really the only proper hedge against just the, the, the odds of being in proximity to, to loaded weapons. And yet if someone in the middle of this operation came up to us and say, you know, actually there's a casino that just opened across the street that will take your bets about whether or not guns are loaded. Would you like to bet a million dollars as to whether or not this gun is loaded? Well, of course I would bet those million dollars every time that it's not loaded because I know it's not loaded. So there's, there's a, there's a literal truth and a metaphorical truth, you know, otherwise known as a very useful fiction, which in this case is actually more useful than the truth. Right? But the only way I can understand its utility is, and, and even utter the phrase metaphorical truth in a way that's comprehensible is in the context of distinguishing it from literal truth.

Brett Weinstein:    00:19:31       This is fascinating, Sam. Actually, this is, this is I think next phase.

Sam Harris:         00:19:36       I'm a little. I'm worried by how excited you are,

Jordan Peterson:    00:19:40       so I have a little story that might be helpful about that. And so you could, you could tell me what, what you think about. Okay. Think about this. Okay. So, so one of the things that I've been reconsidering since we talked last night is, is the nature of our dispute about the relationship between facts and values? Because I, I think I can make a case that what I've been trying to do, especially in my first book was to ground values in fact, but I'm not doing it the same way that you are. Exactly. So, so I, I don't want to make that a point of contention so I'll get to that in a moment. But with regards to this metaphorical truth, let me tell you something. You tell me what you think about this. So one of them, things that's been observed by anthropologists worldwide is that human beings tend to make sacrifices. So I'm going to spend two minutes, three minutes laying out a sacrificial story. And the reason I want to do it is because see what I think happened with regards to the origin of these profound stories is that people first started to behave in certain ways that had a survival significance and that was selected for and as a consequence of the the standard selection practices. And so that was instantiated in behavior and then because we can observe ourselves because we're self conscious creatures that we started to make representations of those patterns and dramatize them and then encapsulate them in stories. So it's a bottom up from, from the. So it would be sort of like chimpanzees or wolves become aware of their dominance hierarchy structures and the strategies that they use. So a wolf for example, if two wolves are having a dominance dispute, one the wolf that gives up first lays down and puts his neck open so the other wolf can tear it out. And then the other wolf doesn't. And you could say, well, it's as if a wolf is following a rule about not killing a weaker member of the pack. Of course wolves don't have rules. They have behavioral patterns, but a self conscious wolf would watch what the wolves were doing and then say, well, it's as if we're acting out the idea that each wolf in the pack has intrinsic value and then that starts to be, and maybe that wolves would have a little story about the, the, the heroic forbearing wolf doesn't tear out the neck of its opponents and that. That's good. Well, well, that's good wolf ethics and, and, and so, but it's grounded, but it's grounded in the actual behavior. Okay, so let's, we'll put that aside for a second. Now here, here's the sacrificial story. Human beings have made sacrifices. It seems to be a standard practice all around the world. And in the biblical narratives, they would often sacrifice something of value, like a, like a valuable animal or...

Sam Harris:         00:22:18       Like a child.

Jordan Peterson:    00:22:19       Well, well, no, no, no. Look, look, I'm not, I'm not making light of this. I know that human sacrifice was a part of this.

Sam Harris:         00:22:26       Yeah, but that again, to just to, just to give you a crib on where my mind goes there. You human human sacrifice is as old a religious precept as we know about as a cultural universal. The other sacrifices are derivations from it and circumcision is a surrogate for the far more barbaric act of human sacrifice and you know it answers every test you would put to it with respect to its archetypal significance and it's. It's compelling a presence in stories across all cultures, but the horror is that it actually has taken place in all these cultures and based on explicit beliefs in the presence of just just right scientific ignorance.

Jordan Peterson:    00:23:15       Arthur Kessley used that as the argument for the essential insanity of humanity,

Sam Harris:         00:23:18       No but it's not just the insanity of humanity. It's the misapprehension of the causal structure of the cosmos. You don't know what controls the weather. You don't know why people get sick. You think your neighbor is capable of casting magic spells on you. You're ignorant of everything and you're trying to force some order on things, and so when you don't in the absence of engineers and you don't know why certain buildings fall down, you actually can agree with your neighbor that maybe should bury your first born child into every post hole of this new building, which in fact has took place and it's the consequence of ignorance and so that the problem is if you're only going to talk about this notion of sacrifice...

Jordan Peterson:    00:24:01       It's very strange consequence of ignorance Sam..

Sam Harris:         00:24:04       it's the notion that we're in relationship to invisible others that can, that can mistreat us based on not having offered enough.

Jordan Peterson:    00:24:11       We're we are. We're in...

Sam Harris:         00:24:14       Not precisely those others.

Jordan Peterson:    00:24:15       Well, but we're in relationship to the invisible others who will judge us in the future.

Sam Harris:          00:24:20       Okay. Would that be. You're changing. You're changing the noun in important way..

Jordan Peterson:    00:24:23       I know but I'm also trying to understand. I'm not trying to argue against the horror of child sacrifice...

Sam Harris:         00:24:29       No that I would never imagine you would...

Jordan Peterson:    00:24:31       I know, but I'm also, I'm also trying to...

Sam Harris:         00:24:34       but my work would be much easier if you did that.

Jordan Peterson:    00:24:37       [Laughs] Yes, yes, yes. And, and the work of journalists as well. They've tried that. Pretty much anyways, [cheers] right? That would be, that would even be worse than enforced monogamy. Hypothetical. Okay. So see, I'm, let's say that I'm trying to give the devil his due and I'm trying to understand from an evolutionary perspective like cognitive behavioral evolutionary perspective, let's say why that particular set of ideas would emerge and in many, many, many places perhaps autonomy or once having emerged would spread like wildfire. It's like, because I'm not willing to only attribute it to ignorance, now we can attribute it to ignorance. No problem man, but, but there's more going on there because it is a human universal and like there's all sorts of things that happen in nature as a consequence of biological and evolutionary processes that don't work out well for our current state of moral intuition, let's say. Okay, so one of the things, because I've been thinking about this sacrificial motif for a very long time, trying to figure out what that, what, what the hell's the idea here exactly. And so, so here's, here's one way of thinking about it. If you give up something of value now, you can gain something of more value in the future. Okay, so let's think about that idea for a minute. So the first thing is that's a. that's a hell of an idea. That's delayed, delayed gratification, right? That's the discovery of the future as well. And so you might say, well, the notion of sacrifice is exactly the same thing as the discovery of the future. If we give up something we really value, now we can make a pact with the structure of existence itself such that better things will happen to us in the future. Now, okay, now what's weird about this, and it's hard to understand is that it works. So when I talked to my students, for example, and I say, what did your parents sacrifice to send you to university? Many of them are children are first generation immigrants and so like, man, they're on that story in a second, right? They know all sorts of things that their parents sacrificed and they're gratification in the present for radically delayed return in the future. Now you think animals, generally speaking, they might act out the idea of delayed gratification as a consequence of running out their instincts, but they don't conceptualize it. It's not obvious that animals give up something they valued right now in order to thrive in the future. There's an old story about how to catch a monkey, right, so you put a jar up with rocks in it. Then you put little candies and it's a narrow neck jar. You put little candies on top of the rocks, put a few candies in front of the of the jar. Then the monkey comes along and picks up the candies, puts his hand in the jar, grabs the candies, and can't get it out.

Sam Harris:         00:27:20       Yeah, I still don't know if this actually works on monkeys or if it's just a great story.

Jordan Peterson:    00:27:23       Well, I, I don't know. I don't know either and that I've heard, I've heard, I've heard various claims, but, but, but the point is you can go pick up the monkey. He won't let go of the candidates now perhaps he would. But the issue is that it's not obvious that animals will forgo and immediate gratification for a future gratification.

Brett Weinstein:    00:27:41       Now, I don't think. I don't think that's right actually. And I actually want...

Jordan Peterson:    00:27:44       The question is, will they do it consciously? They might act it out. They act it out, that's not the issue.

Brett Weinstein:    00:27:50       It's very hard to know if it's conscious because they don't respond to the questionnaires...

Jordan Peterson:        00:27:53       I know, I know and it and obviously the, the line between acting it out and becoming, starting to consciously represented is, is a tenuous one. But what looks to me like what happened is that after we observed that people who were capable of delaying gratification, sacrifice things that they valued in order to obtain a future goal. And it worked, that we started to codify that as a representation and then started to act it out. And so, so the story and, and you'd say, well that produced strange variance but, but there's a reason for that too, as far as I can say. So imagine this. Imagine that there's a rule of thumb sacrificing what you find valuable now will ensure certain benefits in the future. Well, then the question becomes how good could those future benefits be and so that might be heavenly, let's say in the archetypal extreme and what's the ultimate sacrifice that you have to perform, and then I would say, well, the child sacrifice fits into that category, and so it's. It's as if those ideas were pushed to the radical extreme and you could say, well, that's a pathological extreme. It's like, well, it is. It is a pathological extreme, but, but I think we also have to understand that some of the things that we've learned as we've evolved towards our current state of, of wisdom such as it is, is that they were learned in a very bloody and catastrophic way. They were learning with incredible difficulty and delay of gratification was certainly one of those because it's a hell of a thing to learn when you're in conditions of probation.

Sam Harris:         00:29:26       Okay. Yeah. I think that the issue here for me is that you don't need a conception of. You don't need any kind of positive gloss on human sacrifice as a meme or as an archetype in order to form a coherent picture of the future. That can motivate you, so delayed, delayed gratification is fully separable from a notion that it might ever be rational or good to sacrifice a child as an offering to an invisible other that doesn't exist.

Jordan Peterson:    00:30:02       But how do you know, it's separate will because that's the developmental history, as you said, so sacrifice...

Sam Harris:         00:30:08       I think, I think it is in fact historically separable, but let's just say it's not, let's just say as a matter of our origins, they're united, they're of a piece. It's just, it is the genetic fallacy to care about that origin. I mean to say that the, that is the only path forward toward an ocean of the future, given where we've come from or that it's somehow necessary to, to venerate now or that it's good that we took that right...

Jordan Peterson:    00:30:38       but we do venerate the idea of sacrifice now, but I would say...

Sam Harris:         00:30:42       I would say we do it to, to the detriment of our moral intuitions in the religious context. So for instance, I think that the notion that Christianity, Christianity is actually a cult of human sacrifice. It Christianity is not a religion that repudiates human sacrifice. Christianity is a religion that says, actually no human sacrifice is necessary and there was only one that in fact was necessary and effective and that's the sacrifice of Jesus and I think that is when you dig into the details, a not only a morally uninteresting vision of our circumstance and how we are, how we can be redeemed, it's morally abhorrent. Right? So I think there's a better version...

Jordan Peterson:    00:31:25       Okay. Let me ask you a question about that. So in, in the moral landscape, you lay out this pathway, there's the bad life and there's the good life, right? And you described what they were and the bad life is a variation of hellish circumstances. In the good life is a variant of hypothetically the life that we would like to lead. And your conception is that, and correct me if I'm wrong, your conception is that the proper pathway forward. So that would be the moral endeavor is to move away from the bad end towards the good.

Sam Harris:         00:31:56       Yeah. And so far as we understand which way is up, yes, yes we can. The basic claim is that we can be right or wrong with respect to our beliefs

Jordan Peterson:    00:32:05       True true, we don't necessarily know how to do that in an unerring manner and we could subject that to approximation correction along the way and we should, but we can outline the broad scheme which is progress away from hell towards something that's positive. Yes, yes. Okay, so I would say that there is an implicit claim in that, that you should sacrifice everything in you that isn't serving that to that. And I would say that that's essentially the same claim that's made in Christianity.

Sam Harris:         00:32:35       Well, again, that is a, I understand the impulse to uplevel these barbaric ignorance derived beliefs, right? To something that is morally that it's interesting and palatable in, in, in the current context. And I understand you can do that. My concern there is you can do that with everything. I mean you could do it with written witchcraft. Why not do the exact same thing you're doing with religion to the history of witchcraft. Witchcraft is aswell

Jordan Peterson:    00:33:09       Well modern witches would do that. So, so that's a perfectly valid yet...

Sam Harris:         00:33:13       But so it's, but it's a, that should be of concern me that there are reasons why we don't want to endorse modern witchcraft. Right?

Jordan Peterson:    00:33:20       Absolutely. And so, so you know...

Sam Harris:         00:33:22       I'm not talking and modern witchcraft currently exists. I mean, you go to Africa, they're there, you know, people are hunting albinos for their body parts because they believe in sympathetic magic and kids get killed as witches. So this belief endures in certain pockets of humanity and we're right to it. I just think at a certain point you have to acknowledge that some ideas are not only wrong, but they're, their effects are disastrous or have been disastrous or will likely be even if good in certain circumstances will likely be disasters in the future. And then we shouldn't be hostage to these, these ancient memes. We shouldn't have to figure out how to make the most of the worst idea that anyone's ever had, which is you should maybe You should sacrifice your first born child to a being you've never seen.

Brett Weinstein:    00:34:12       Hold on Sam, I want to hold your feet to the fire here. Okay. Two points. One interesting observation. When you presented the example, so on your podcast, I had argued that, uh, believing the porcupines can throw their quills might protect you from a porcupine that might, we'll around even though porcupines camp throw their quills, your listener sent the better example, which was all guns are loaded. When you presented it, you didn't say all guns are loaded. Well, you said treat all guns as if they are loaded, which is I think the same reflex that you have faced with any metaphorical truth, which is that it can always be unpacked...

Sam Harris:         00:34:53       but it's actually, that's the way Jordan talks about believing in God as well.

Brett Weinstein:    00:34:57       Right? And actually so, so this is. But then if we take something like a you, so you say, all right, sacrifice of children is abhorrent. Let's say it is. And then you say, well, Christianity hasn't a foregone the sacrifice of children. In fact it's described one child who is sacrificed for everybody else, but arguably that's an upgrade of some metaphorical truth that frees those who are adhering to this tradition from ever considering sacrificing a child. And what it does is it provides a motivational structure that may in fact have very positive outgrowths though not literal, the idea that someone would have sacrificed their own child, uh, for the benefit of everybody else not to have to. That idea might engender a, a large amount of good work that would result as Jordan's point...

Sam Harris:         00:35:55       Let me just concede that the hardest case for me, which I did up top just in defining when after you define metaphorical truth and I used the gun example, there's certainly cases where the useful fiction is more useful than the truth. I would, I would grant that. But I think those cases are few and far between. But handling guns is one of them. It's just not useful when the, when the casino opens across the street and you can place a million dollar bet, right? Then you want, you want to have some purchase on the literal truth. So you want to be able to. And again, this is psychologically interesting because, and I keep coming, coming back to the gun example because the one that that is viscerally real to me, like if I have a real gun that I know to be unloaded, I still emotionally can't treat it as a harmless object. I can't pointed at my child just for the fun of it, because you know that we're going to play cops and robbers now with a real gun, right? This, this, I have a, I have a superstitious attachment to always being safe with a gun and it's important. It's important that that get ingrained and yet it is not strictly not irrational because it has good effects, but it's not actually in register with what I know to be true factually in each moment.

Brett Weinstein:    00:37:17       Right? So, so it's very low cost, very low cost,

Sam Harris:         00:37:20       very low cost. It's not divided societies and causing people to go to war.

Brett Weinstein:    00:37:24       And if you were going to teach a child gun safety, you would want to encode this so that they would automatically know never to behave as if a gun is unloaded. Because that's what gets you into trouble as an adult. Every, every gun owner recognizes the distinction between the metaphorical truth in the literal truth here, but I guess what I suspect is going on here is that your mechanism for dealing with the world involves unpacking all of these things and I think it's highly productive, but it also means that you have a hard time understanding why anybody would do anything different. And that's the question is just because we can track fully the difference between guns actually all being loaded and behaving as if all guns are loaded, right? That one, there's no leftover, there's nothing, there's no mystery there, right? But there may be many of these things for which there is some difficulty lining up the metaphorical truth with the literal truth and operating according to the metaphorical truth might have advantages, which I think is what your getting at [points at jordan]

Jordan Peterson:    00:38:29       so well. So here's, here's another situation, because you know, we have to remember what type of catastrophic past we emerged from it. How much privation ruled the world prior to 1895 essentially. And certainly the farther back you go, the more bloody and horrible it was mean. How often do you think it was necessary, and this is not obviously something I'm in favor of, and this is also one of these situations where we get to play with ideas that we might not otherwise play with. How often do you think it was necessary for people in the past who had absolutely no access to birth control and who didn't have enough food to sacrifice a child for the survival of their family mean God only knows and that's it? Well, but that's worth thinking about. It's like you know that life is unbelievably cruel and difficult and one of the problems that comes when you discover the future is that you might have to make the most painful of sacrifices and lots of lots of archaic people do this sort of thing. They do that with their elderly people. They do that with sick people. They do that with infants that they deemed too fragile to survive. Like so part of child sacrifice, and I know the literature on child sacrifice reasonably well, part of child sacrifice seem to emerge out of the observable necessity to leave someone behind so that everyone else didn't die and we don't know how often that had to happen in the past. It might've had to happen a lot right...

Sam Harris:         00:39:54       now, just just in the interest of kind of conceptual clarity here, human sacrifice is a larger horror than that. So you have. It was very common. Is the sacrificing of captives, take, the Aztec sacrifices where you, you now have slaves, some of whom you're going to have.

Jordan Peterson:    00:40:10       Oh yes, The aztecs sacrificed about 25,000 people a year. Yeah. Look, I mean it's, it's clearly a bloody mess. There's no doubt about that. But you know, one of the things that you see happening in the biblical narrative, which is extraordinarily interesting, is that you see echoes of child sacrifice at the beginning, but what happens is the sacrificial notion gets increasingly psychologized as the story progresses. So you know, you see that transition with Abraham and Isaac were the were the where the child sacrifice is actually forbidden, although previously demanded by God and then you also see it as you already laid out in the substitution of the circumcision for the idea of sacrifice itself and then what seems to happen. See, I'm trying to figure out how these ideas developed psychologically from their behavioral underpinnings is that eventually it becomes psychologized completely so you can say, well, we can. We can conceptualize a sacrifice in the abstract so my parents can sacrifice to send me to university without anything or anyone having to die. It transforms itself from something that's enacted out as a dramatic ritual into something that's a psychological reality, but all that blood and catastrophe along the way as part of the process by which the idea comes to emerge.

Sam Harris:         00:41:18       So what is the connection of all of this? Because yes there is this history and I would argue we are busily trying to outgrow much of it, if not most of it, and whether its evolutionary history or just cultural...

Jordan Peterson:    00:41:33       We might be trying to transmute it so that it becomes we we can we can maintain as you suggested, we do. We can maintain what's useful in the tradition and throw out everything that's pathologic,

Sam Harris:         00:41:43       yes, but we're constantly discovering a lack of fit between both our, what we perceive ourselves as biological imperatives and the cultural legacies of just what Mommy and daddy taught me was true, right, which we have now. Every reason to believe might not be true and we're trying to optimize our thoughts and institutions and and relationships with one another for our current circumstance, and yet we have this legacy effect of certain books and certain ways of speaking have a completely different status and they have this status because they may in fact it imagined not be the product of merely previous human minds, but they may be the products of omniscience and that this is where the respect accorded to religious tradition is totally unlike the respect we would accord to anything else. Mythology, literature, past science, past philosophy. I mean people can read Plato and aristotle for their entire lives without ever, without ever being fully captured by the kind of dogmatism that, that every religion demands that you be captured by. If you're really going to be an adherence,

Jordan Peterson:    00:43:04       I say that's actually an archetypal truth. You know the idea that the pathological tradition stands in the way of update. That's an archetypal truth. I mean, one of the reasons why in creation myths, one of the variants of a creation myth is that the hero has to slay a tyrannical giant in order to make it make the world out of his pieces and it's a metaphorical restatement of the idea that a true tradition can become hidebound and when it becomes hidebound and too rigid that it interferes with current adaptation. But the problem is, and this is, I think this is something we really need to hash out. The problem is the problem that you're describing is the problem of a priori structure. Now, some of that's textual, but some of it isn't textual. Some of it resides in us as our psyche and so far say

Sam Harris:         00:43:47       no problem. I'm I'm describing here is that we have two categories of, of books in this case, right? We have those written by people like ourselves just endlessly open for criticism and and conjecture and though is written by invisible omniscient entities.

Jordan Peterson:    00:44:07       I would assume that if these religious systems weren't codified in books, if they were still just enacted or dramatized, you'd have the same objection. It's not the fact that they're in books that's relevant...

Sam Harris:         00:44:16       but it is the dogmatism is the fact that we can't. We can't jettison bad parts...

Jordan Peterson:    00:44:20       Okay. It's the dogmatism. Okay, so to me that's the same as the problem of structure. Now here, here's the. Here's the problem. I think with the way that your argument is laid out, and I'm not saying it's wrong, it seems to me that this is a place where it needs to be developed because I see that the attempt that you make to derive the value from the world of facts as as justifiable given what it is that you're attempting to do, which in principle is to make the world a better place, but there's a massive gap in there. It's like how do you do it? Because the objection that you place on my. My reasoning let's say which is. Well, the problem with these texts is that there's an infinite number of interpretations and which of them can you. How can you determine which of those is canonically correct? It's exactly and precisely the same criticism that can be levied against your attempt to extract a world of value from the domain of facts. It's the same problem!

Sam Harris:         00:45:09       It's not an infinite number of interpretations in either case, but I allow us...

Jordan Peterson:    00:45:14       It's close enough to infinite...

Sam Harris:         00:45:15       So that might be. I mean that's why the moral landscape for me is a landscape of peaks and valleys and so, you know, I, I'm totally open to the possibility in fact certainty that there are different ways for similar minds and certainly different ways for different minds to be constellated so that they have equivalent but irreconcilable peaks on the landscape. So know there's, there's a lot of wellbeing over here and there's a lot of wellbeing over here and there's a valley in between. And so it's, it's a kind of moral relativism. It's kind of like, you know, this is, this is great and this is great, but these are irreconcilable, right?

Jordan Peterson:    00:45:53       Well, I'd like to see that made more concrete and I need to know how that fits in with your conception because one of the claims that you make in the moral landscape is that the distinction between the bad life and the good life is not only, it's like it's a factual distinction. Yes, it's universally, universally apprehensible and true. It's your. I think it's your fundamental axiomatic claim and I don't see how that's commensurate with the position that you just put forward.

Sam Harris:         00:46:19       So here's the position and you can forget about morality as a concept for this. I think the starting point is deeper than morality. The starting point, and this is all, this is our starting point, all of us right now in the universe, the starting point is we are conscious, right? We have a, we have a circumstance that admits of qualitative experience, and again, this is true. Whatever, however we understand consciousness, whatever is actually happening, how we could be living in a simulation. This could be a dream. You could be a brain in a Vat. Consciousness could just be the product of neurochemistry or we could have eternal souls running on, on how is integrated with the brain. Whatever is true, something seems to be happening and these seemings can be really, really bad or really, really good. We know each one of us in our lives have experienced this range of possibility and yes, there are caveats here and there are hard and painful experiences that have a silver lining, right? hat gives you some other capacity where you can say, well, you know, that really sucked, but I'm a better person it. Right, and we can understand what it means to be a better person for it. In terms again of this range of experience, which I, you know, I'm calling subsuming all of this, the positive end of this as well being, which is to say that you now I'm a better person for it because now, you know, having endured that ordeal, I am capable of much greater compassion where I appreciate my life more. You know, the cancer made me a better person. Now that I've, I'm cured. I value each moment of life more than I ever did. All of these claims are intelligible within a context of an open ended context of exploring this space of possible experience. So what I'm saying is forget about morality. Forget about right and wrong and good and evil. What is undeniable is that what we have here is a navigation problem. We have a, a space of possible experience. And again, this is not just a human problem. This is a problem for any possible conscious mind. We have a space of possible experience in which we can navigate and we and things can get excruciating and pointlessly horrible where there are no silver linings. And we get this. This can happen individually in some episode of madness that never ends. If there really is a Christian hell to go to, well then it can. It's going to happen to me after I die, right? Given what I've said on the stage, uh, if, uh, so it matters who's right. Obviously, if I knew that a, uh, an eternity of fiery torment awaited somebody who didn't make the right noises about one or one faith or another will then it would only be rational to make those noises. Right? So it's, it's my bet. I'm placing a bet on certain pictures of reality being wrong. But the reality is, is we're navigating in this space and morality and ethics are the terms we use for how we think about our behavior affecting one another's experience. So if you're in a moral solitude, if you're on a desert island or if you're alone in the universe, morality is not the issue you need to worry about. But wellbeing is still is an ever present issue. It's possible to suffer and as possible to experience bliss and, and perhaps something beyond that. And we, the horizon in both directions is something we will, we'll never fully explored. Explore, very likely in the way we don't know how good things can get and we don't know how bad they can get, but, but that there's a spectrum here is undeniable. And I, I would say that, that my moral realism simply entails that we acknowledged that it's possible not to know what you're missing. It's possible to be living in a way where you are less happy than you could be and not to know why. Right? And to not have the wisdom to make the changes and that matters if anything matters that matters and it matters to us individually and it matters to us collectively. And that mattering is our, is that subsumes everything we can intelligibly want in this domain of value. And that's. And so again, it's, it's the, the, the cash value of any value claim is in the, the actual or potential change in consciousness for some contract system somewhere sometime. And that's, that's my claim. And that's I

Brett Weinstein:    00:50:50       can I try to get you each to clarify something. So it sounds to me, Sam, like you are hypothesizing that a rationalist approach will always beat a traditional metaphorical approach with respect to the generation of wellbeing.

Sam Harris:         00:51:12       Well, not always, but there's so many obvious downsides to the traditional sectarian dogmatic approach that we should want to get out of the religion business as fast as possible.

Brett Weinstein:    00:51:23       Okay. Okay. But as fast as possible. But do you mean that it has always been true that we should always have gotten away from it as fast as possible or do you mean now we should get away from it as fast as possible, but there is a point somewhere in the past where it might have been true that actually the best, the most, the richest path to wellbeing might have been encoded metaphorically.

Sam Harris:         00:51:45       Oh yeah. That's certainly possible. And in fact you might even say it was likely based on the fact that we have all of these systems still around.

Jordan Peterson:    00:51:54       We still have the systems around in part because our, we still, we still think in metaphor and we actually can't help it because half of our brain is oriented towards metaphor.

Brett Weinstein:    00:52:04       But can I get you to clarify something now? Yes. Okay. So you have argued, and you've actually quite surprised me by doing so. You've argued that the dogmatism is a bug and not a feature. You've argued...

Jordan Peterson:    00:52:19       it's a bug and a feature.

Brett Weinstein:    00:52:21       Okay. It's a bug and a feature. Good. So yes, but what I thought I heard you say was that the resistance to update, yes, was a problem that effectively it was an obstacle yet.

Jordan Peterson:    00:52:33       So his lack of resistance to update. Right. Okay. There's problems everywhere, man.

Brett Weinstein:    00:52:37       There's a tension. There is a tension, tension, tension, right?

Jordan Peterson:    00:52:43       Well, look at it this way. Most new ideas are stupid and dangerous...

Sam Harris:         00:52:49       But most old ones are as well.

Jordan Peterson:    00:52:50       Some of them are vital, right? And so we have. We're screwed both ways. It's like, well, if we stay locked in our current mode of apprehension, all hell's gonna break loose. If we generate a whole bunch of new solutions, most of them are going to be wrong and we're going to die. And so what we need to do is it's a Darwinian claim in some sense, is that despite the fact that most new ideas are stupid and dangerous, a subset of them are so vital that if we don't incorporate them, we're all going to perish. That's the bloody existential condition, and so now at part of the issue here and see, I think that this is the problem is, is that let's take that the dogma idea. Okay, so there's the dogma incorporated in the books, but I'm going to throw away the books because the dogma was there before the books and then the question is where it was the dogma and the answer was the dogma was in the cultural practices, but and in and in the agreement that people made with regards to those cultural practices, but it was also part and parcel of the Inter psychic structure that enables us to perceive the world as such. Now the problem is, and I think this is the central place where we need to flesh out these ideas, is that you cannot view the world without an a priori structure and that a prior structure has a dogmatic element, and so you can't just say, well, let's get rid of the dogma, because you can't perceive the world without the prior structure

Sam Harris:         00:54:04       Well it has an uninspected element. Because if you're talking about just perceiving the world, yes, we have a. We have perceptual structure that allows for us to perceive the world and we know that there are failures states, right? So we know, we know for instance, that we are, we are, we have evolved to perceive in visual space based on a literally neurological expectation that light sources will be from above. Right? And so we know that we can produce visual illusions based on gaming that expectation, right? But that's not the same thing as a, a dogma subscribed to by some, some subset of humanity that is antithetical to another dogma subscribed to by another set of humanity that has nothing to do with underlying biology that something that's changeable. It's changeable in real time based on just conversations like this. Like, you know, uh, we could, you know, I get emails from people who can point to these, the paragraph where they lost their faith, right? Where in reading somebody, somebody's reading, reading Richard Dawkins or or newborn hearing, a debate between between me and some theologian where it's just a collision against rationality, which is so useful in every other context suddenly proves its utility in this context where they think, well, okay, clearly I know the Muslims are wrong about the status of the Koran. Let me, let me take that. That that spirit of criticism in the internal space of my own culture and what moves. Well, a dogmatic attachment to Christianity has to move by that same standard and that's and and it's possible to do that and that's not a matter of getting into the brain and changing your perceptual apparatus that has.

Jordan Peterson:    00:55:50       Well, the distinction between different levels of what would you call it, structure related processing in the brain and the relationship to the underlying biology isn't clear like and it isn't clear when that's biological and when is it, when it isn't. So you know, your comments about our, a priori perceptual structures. Not withstanding, there's no clear line between what constitutes and instantiated accurate biological perception and something that shades more into a cultural, a presupposition. So it's a. it's a gray area. Now here me ask you a question. So this is one of the things I've been thinking about. So this is. This is designed to point out the difference. I'm not making the claim that the idea that we should ground values in fact is wrong. I'm not going to make that claim, although we think it's way more complicated than we've opened up so far, but I would say is I can I think relatively easily demonstrate a situation in which you cannot find the value from the fact. Let's say you want an antique, it is valuable and you think, I'm going to take this antique apart and I'm going to find out where the value is. Good luck.

Sam Harris:         00:56:58       It's not valuable in that sense...

Jordan Peterson:    00:57:00       Oh, wait a sec, wait a sec. So we need to know. So that's right. It's not valuable in that sense because the value of the antique is a social agreement about its position in a hierarchy. It has nothing to do with the material substrate at the end.

Sam Harris:         00:57:13       Sure

Jordan Peterson:    00:57:13       Yeah, but you can't. It's not just "sure." You've made the claim already that you can derive value from facts. It's like then what are you willing to accept as facts?

Sam Harris:         00:57:23       These are facts about again, so there are facts about the facts exist in intersubjective space. Right? So if I, if I tell you, well, this glass, this isn't just an ordinary glass. I know it looks just like that one, but this is the glass that Elton John drank from in his last concept here. Right? Right. So what do you want to pay me for it? It could be that there's the biggest Elton John Fan ever and you, it's worth quite a lot to you now. That is, it's a kind of evidence is not value intrinsic to the glass, but it is, it is, it is a.

Jordan Peterson:    00:57:57       where's the value located?

Sam Harris:         00:57:58       Is a measure in the change. This provokes in your experience, right? There's the idea. I mean we value ideas as much as anything else and that's, you know, that's hence the mad work done by religion. Right? I mean, because it's not. These aren't facts on the ground. These are ideas that rural people's lives, people spend their whole life afraid of Hell.

Jordan Peterson:    00:58:18       okay. It seems to me that it's easier in some sense rather than to relate the value of that. I love the Elton John's glass example. I just going to use Elvis Presley is here. I will. I will tell you, it's like where in the guitar is the fact that it's Elvis Presley's and guitar while it's nowhere in the guitar. Well, what is it in? Where is it that. And the answer is it's in the dominance hierarchy of values that's been socially constructed around the guitar. It's located in interpersonal space and that that location, so value is located in interpersonal space and if you want to say, well, that's also a fact. It's like, okay, but we're starting to stretch out...

Sam Harris:         00:58:55       It's a fact about the beliefs and desires and conscious states of all the people involved. Okay, well that's the only place where it exists. That's the only person with the idea of Elvis' guitar can show up.

Jordan Peterson:    00:59:05       Fair enough, Okay. Well, I'm trying to figure out then you see, because what seems to me to be happening at least in part is that we can stretch the the domain of what constitutes facts so that the domain of fact starts to incorporate the domain of values, but we do that with some doing some to the domain of fact.

Sam Harris:         00:59:22       No no...

Jordan Peterson:    00:59:23       No, hang on, don't, don't say, don't just say no, this is really

Sam Harris:         00:59:27       Say more.

Jordan Peterson:    00:59:28       This is really complicated because you see, part of what the postmodernists have done is they've pushed away the domain of facts entirely and they say, well, the only thing is is that the only thing that actually exists is that this domain of inter subjective agreement and, and they,

Sam Harris:          00:59:42       no, yeah, you and I are on the same page with respect to postmodernism.

Jordan Peterson:          00:59:45       Right! But, but, but you have to give, but you have to give. You have to give the devil his due as well. They're, they, they pointed out something and what they pointed out is that it's not so easy to localize the structure that attributes to facts their value. It's not a simple thing that...

Brett Weinstein:    01:00:00       Wait wait wait. You would surely agree that if we had Elvis Presley's guitar, that that guitar would have a material impact on people. We could tell them, this is Elvis Presley's guitar. Some fraction of them would disbelieve it. Somebody might be able to establish it based on a picture or something like that, and the point is it would have a value that would alter the behavior of people with respect to that object in a material way. ... We could figure out what the value of this guitar is based on some intersection.

Jordan Peterson:    01:00:38       Sure, we can take a behaviorist approach and we can see how much work people were willing to do to contact.

Sam Harris:         01:00:44       We can scan their brains and see what we can...

Jordan Peterson:    01:00:47       Well I am not so sure we can do that well.

Sam Harris:         01:00:48       Well, clearly the brain is involved.

Jordan Peterson:    01:00:50       Hypothetically, we can do it, but practically we're not so good out because the MRI data, generally speaking, is junk.

Sam Harris:         01:00:56       Well, the way we can table that, it's controversial statement in MRI circles ...

Jordan Peterson:    01:01:03       fair enough.

Brett Weinstein:    01:01:04       I don't think we need it, we need it, but just go with that will establish the brain...

Sam Harris:         01:01:09       The brain as yet incompletely understood is surely involved in the valuing of this object. Right? And so if I take, if I tell you that this is, and again we can take it out of intersubjective space because you could be in a value solitude with respect to any given object, so it could just be, you could have a sentimental attachment to your watch that's worth exactly $25 because that's what you paid for it, but this is the watch that you know, this is your first watch or whatever it is and you wouldn't sell it for any amount of money. That's a measure of your but behavioral measure of how much you value it. And if I told you, oh well, you know, sorry, I brought your watch and lost it. What the cascade of negative effect that I see on your face as correlated with something that's happening in your head and the brain is involved, right? So.

Jordan Peterson:    01:01:53       Well, you get that picture. Basically state is the value. I can tell this that there'd be a socio cultural agreement as to the value of whatever this entity is and that would find it's mirroring the brain and that's that's a noncontroversial statement, all socio cultural phenomena that are experienced find the reflection of the brain. The fact that you can say that that's reflected in the brain. It's like, yes...

Sam Harris:         01:02:15       but the problem I continually run into with religion is that there you have a domain of so called sacred values where people who are otherwise rational cease to be rational actor, so this is the reason why Israel and the Israelis and the Palestinians can't negotiate as though their problems could be solved by a real estate transaction is because they have irrational and irreconcilable claims upon land building.

Jordan Peterson:        01:02:42       Do you think there are more irrational than the claim that that glass is worth something when no one knows.

Sam Harris:         01:02:48       It's like that. It's like that,

Jordan Peterson:        01:02:51       but that's not irrational by your own definition. You just said that that was actually constituted a fact.

Sam Harris:         01:02:56       It's a fact about people. Right? So there, there are. So just be a little careful here because it gets confusing. The the. There are, we can make objective claims about subjective experience, right? It's not as there are. We use this word objective and subjective in in different ways. We use it in an epistemological ways and ontological ways, and.

Jordan Peterson:    01:03:22       Wait, give me just one sec to make sure I'm on the same page

Sam Harris:         01:03:26       I can illustrate it by way of example. If I say that that's just your subjective opinion, right? I'm saying I'm denigrating. I'm saying that this is an expression of your bias. This is this, this is true for you, but it's not true out in the world, right? That's one way I can use the subject of objective distinction. Uh, and that's an epistomological way. Like you're, you're, you're ruled by bias. You're not thinking straight. You know, I don't have to take your opinion seriously. That's subjective. I'm worried about objective facts, but people get confused. They think that objective facts only means the material world. And what's the, what's really in this glass as a material object. No, we can be much more objective than that. We can, we can make objective claims about the subjective experience of, of people like ourselves. I can, I can, I can make an infinite number of objective claims about the experience. This is the example I always use, but I just happen to love it. Uh, what, what was JFK thinking the moment he got shot, right? That's it. We don't know. So we'll never get the data right. So the, the truth or falseness of, of what I'm about to say can't be predicated on actually getting access to the data because because he's not around and his brain is not around to scan. Uh, uh, so, but we, you and I both know an infinite number of things he wasn't thinking about. We can make a, an objective claim about his subjectivity. I know he wasn't thinking, well, I hope Jordan Peterson has Sam Harris' work it out on stage that night and an infinite number of things like that. He was thinking something. He was experiencing something but we don't know what it is that. So, so what I'm talking about this domain of value, I'm saying that it exists in this landscape of actual and possible, conscious experience for human beings and not any other system like us. They can experience this range of suffering and happiness.

Jordan Peterson:    01:05:22       Well, okay, so partly what I'm trying to do is to actually determine what that structure is.

Sam Harris:         01:05:27       So in our case, it's certainly connected to the evolve structure of our brain by everything else.

Jordan Peterson:    01:05:35       I want to go way deeper into the idea then it's connected with brain states because it's, yes, it's definitely connected with brain states. The question is at least in part how and what does that mean? And I think that the neuroscience has progressed far enough so that we can do quite a good job of this. And so, but I want to return to one thing, and maybe I'll outline a little bit of this and um, when you talked about the Israeli Palestinian conflict, you said that that was irrational. And so look, you know, fair enough, people have been locked with your hands around each other's necks there for 3000 years, but there's a problem there and the problem is that people are looking at the landscape from a contextualized perspective, right? It's not just a piece of land, it's their piece of land. It's like your house or maybe your favorite shirt. It's like, what? You say, well, I have a favorite shirt. It's like, well, there's nothing inherent in the shirt that makes it your favorite. No, it's a subjective judgment. It's like, well then is that a fact? Well, yes. It's a fact. It's a fact about subjective judgment. It's okay. While the Israeli claim on the land and the Palestinian claim on the land is a subjective judgment, that's a fact, how is that irrational?

Sam Harris:         01:06:38       Because it is the. The true analogy here. The complete analogy is rather like we're about to fight over Elton John's glass and Elton John was never here. Right?

Sam Harris:         01:07:04       Not saying it clearly still matters to us. In our misapprehension of our situation, we still really care and these are. These are objectively true claims about the level at which we value things and hence the impasse, but it matters...

Jordan Peterson:    01:07:19       I think that's counterproductive dismissive. Like you could say, well,

Sam Harris:         01:07:23       it's not. When you look at this specific claim, it's really not.

Jordan Peterson:    01:07:28       Look, you took, you took the contextual interpretation to its absolute extreme. You said, well, there's multiple reasons why different people who occupied the same piece of land are going to feel about it in different ways. Sure. Okay,

Sam Harris:         01:07:39       and most those reasons are amenable to some kind of rational compromise. There are studies on this. I mean there's studies done by people who...

Jordan Peterson:    01:07:47       When you say the word rational in that context, you're using it as a black box that contains the concept proper way of thinking about it. It's like it's not so obvious in most situations what the rational approach is.

Sam Harris:         01:07:59       I have an obvious one here and and and that's that whatever the Christians and the Muslims and the Jews think they're getting from their attachment to their dogmatic and irreconcilable religious worldviews can be gotten just as well by a deeper understanding of the of our universal and non culturally bound capacity for ethical experience, spiritual experience, community building, and we can.

Jordan Peterson:    01:08:32       What's that grounded in?

Sam Harris:         01:08:33       We can touch that space without. If it's almost like the status quo is, it's almost like your content to live in a world or your at least your content, not to judge too harshly a world where fans of rival soccer teams or baseball teams regularly kill one another over their fandom, right? Like, oh, like what if that were the status quo? So He's been this way for thousands of years. There must be a reason for it. People really liked sports.

Jordan Peterson:    01:08:57       I'm not trying to justify the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

Sam Harris:         01:09:00       No, but I'm saying you shouldn't be too quick to judge the sanctity of their, of their differences of opinion,

Jordan Peterson:    01:09:06       but wait a minute, Sam, there you made a claim like you. Your claim was that if the Christians and the Jews and the Muslims would just stop their stupidity and adopt this universal ethic, then everything would be okay. It's like, okay, what's the basis for the universal ethic like that sets ...

Sam Harris:         01:09:20       that's a nonprofit, the truth is mean. That's an interesting problem for philosophers and for scientists. That's not actually where the rubber meets the road for people living their lives well, I mean This is analogous to me really care about all of this and I and my job as a, as a philosophy, as a moral philosopher in that case is to make the best case I can for these ideas, but the truth is, I mean if it is analogous to when you get into a debate with a Christian fundamentalists in the states, very often this person will pretend to care about cosmology as or evolution as though it's the most important thing in the world as though you can't get out of bed in the morning and figuring out how to treat your, your friends and family. Well, unless you figure out what happened before the Big Bang, right? No one really lives their lives that way and yet we have convinced ourselves that this is a sensible way of talking about the conflict between religion and science.

Brett Weinstein:    01:10:25       I think. I think you have arrived at the core of your conflict right here and I, I actually hear you both loud and clear. Your point is that if the people faced with the question where to, you know, start with a fresh sheet of paper, look at the Middle East, they could arrive at a compromise that they as individuals might find, um, uh, put them way ahead and is more profitable than the situation that they are continually finding themselves. And that might be the case. On the other hand, the reason that they don't is that historically those who have been out competed by those who have it. So the point is the universe and the fact that it refuses to solve that conflict is telling us that there is some reason that people who take that prospect seriously are not actually correct in some, at least metaphorical way. So in other words, what is it to have a sentimental attachment to some piece of territory somewhere that sounds completely irrational. On the other hand, that sentimental attachment may result in you continuing for 500 or a thousand or 2000 years. Whereas if you surrendered it because it was irrational, you might go extinct. Now, should you care that your lineage is going to go extinct? Maybe arguably not. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine that what you're saying is so thoroughly grounded that it can justify causing people to alter their perspective on value in such a way that it might actually drive them extinct. It's not clear.

Sam Harris:         01:11:56       Clearly. Secularism. You were talking about the fringe here. We're talking about that when you're talking about this case, the Israeli settlers and the Palestinian terrorists, right? Like that is that is it. We should all breathe a sigh of relief that that doesn't. That, that, that kind of passionate attachment to land doesn't characterize most of humanity.

Jordan Peterson:    01:12:22       It does if you're trying to defend your house.

Sam Harris:         01:12:23       So, but that's kind of a different topic...

Brett Weinstein:    01:12:28       I think this is. This is where. This is where the crux of it is. If we follow the idea that this is actually something that the seemingly sentimental and irrational attachment to the piece of land is some sort of Meta rationality, which sounds like your perspective [JP's] than we are now confronted with the question of, all right, if it is an evolved kind of meta rationality that is being manifested in stories that cause people to behave in ways that Sam sees as clearly irrational, then we are stuck with the naturalistic fallacy, which is to say so for those who don't know, the naturalistic fallacy says that just because something is doesn't mean it ought, right? The fact that selection favors something doesn't make it good and the aztecs sacrificed their enemies. It is good for continuing Aztenecs, but it may not be good in some absolute moral sense. So here's the question for you. You're arguing for an I think an evolutionarily very viable explanation for religious belief and dogma, but aren't you stuck with the downside of it? Where much of what is encoded in that way may actually be abhorrent?

Jordan Peterson:    01:13:39       Yes, Absolutely.

Brett Weinstein:    01:13:40       Okay, so what are we doing about it? What do we do about...

Jordan Peterson:    01:13:43       Well, this is, this is exactly that...

Brett Weinstein:    01:13:44       Do you have sorting algorithm. What is it?

Jordan Peterson:    01:13:47       Yes! I was trying to get to it. Okay. Okay. So this is actually why I asked Sam this question. It wasn't, it wasn't an attack. It's like, okay, so look, people have these belief systems, Christian Muslim, Jew will say for that, and you're saying abandoned. That was let's say two to add move towards this transcendent rationality. It's like, okay two problems. Um, it's not so easy to abandon the belief system because you ended up in the morally relativist nihilist pit problem.

Sam Harris:         01:14:14       One doesn't have to.

Jordan Peterson:    01:14:15       Well, People tend to, so it's not. They don't have to wait ...

Sam Harris:         01:14:24       That's an empirical claim we would have to find out whether that is true. There's a lot of evidence against that.

Jordan Peterson:    01:14:28       Yeah. Well there's plenty of evidence for it too, but it's beside the point to some degree because that isn't, that isn't something that I want to quibble about. Perhaps there are trends, there are transitional paths and sometimes people find a collapse of their faith actually freeing. It's certainly the case that many of the people who are are are happy about what you're doing have found exactly that in what you've been saying and more power to you and so I'm not willing to dispute that, but what you said was, okay, here's these belief systems that are ancient and complex and we can step outside of them . There's this transcendent rationality that we could all aspire to that would solve the problems. It's like, okay, what is it? Well, what is it exactly?

Sam Harris:         01:15:07       It is at a minimum to value all of the variables that conspire to make the one life. We know we have value. All those variables. We were, we were doing it right. We do it every day and how we organize ourselves...

Jordan Peterson:    01:15:23       No we don't because we apply an priori framework to the variables to say, to reduce them to a tiny subset that we can manage and it's the nature of that priori framework that we haven't been able to have a discussion about. We have an priori framework that narrows our perception to almost nothing. It's built into us. It's partly socially constructed. It has a deep neurological substrate and we actually understand how it emerges to a large degree and the thing is is that...

Sam Harris:         01:15:47       but I don't think that's actually our differences. The a priori framework operates in many different spaces, which again, we can't necessarily analyze, but it makes it no less true. So if you, if you put your hand on a hot stove, you will immediately feel a good, a very good reason. In fact, in unarguably good reason to remove it. Right? And that's, it doesn't require a moral philosophy to get you there. You don't need a, you don't need to inspect your a priori framework. You just have to feel, Holy Shit, this is the worst thing I've ever felt. Right? And there are so many moments like that in life that we dimly under that we understand...

Jordan Peterson:    01:16:23       What if you're trying to rescue your child from a fire.

Sam Harris:         01:16:24       Well, exactly. Then you have, you have some other goal, right? That caused you to brave that, that suffering, right?

Jordan Peterson:    01:16:32       Yes but...

Sam Harris:         01:16:32       And, but again, trying to rescue your child from a fire is pretty close to as the hot stove in not needing to be analyzed. Right? The imperative to rescue your, it becomes harder when you have to rescue someone else's child from a fire and you're and you're. We're worried about orphan in your child who's standing next to you on the sidewalk, right? Then we get into the domain of moral philosophy and then you can say, well, you know what? Do what? How much do each of us owe the children of other people, right? How much should I risk my life and risk orphaning my child to rescue your child? That's when things get interesting in a philosophy seminar and that's where people begin to hesitate. People begin to. We are biased toward protecting ourselves, protecting our kin, protecting our friends, and only then do we begin to extend the circle and and again, moral, but it is not a mystery where we want to go here. We want to extend the circle more and more and build institutions and societies that, implement our best selves at our best moments more and more. It makes it more effortless to be good...

Jordan Peterson:    01:17:41       But the devil is in the details...

Brett Weinstein:    01:17:41       Can I Take your example seriously here for a second?

Sam Harris:         01:17:43       Yeah.

Brett Weinstein:    01:17:44       Alright, so you are built to be more likely to rescue your own child in someone else's child from a fire we in society, might like for the minimum number of children to die in fires as possible, which gets you to sideline that consideration in favor of is there a child, uh, who's faced with a fire, who I'm, who I might rescue religions, do exactly this restructuring of values because they say something like, actually your goodness in risking your own life to save that other child from a fire is observed and it is, it is calculated and you will be rewarded for it in some way.

Sam Harris:         01:18:23       That's one possible benefit of some religions. Right?

Brett Weinstein:    01:18:29       Good.

Sam Harris:         01:18:30       And okay, so put that on the balance. But I have a lot to put on the other side...

Brett Weinstein:    01:18:33       I know you do. A never ending list...

Jordan Peterson:    01:18:37       I wanna I wanna I wonder which...

Brett Weinstein:    01:18:39       That's what I'm trying to point out to Jordan here, which he actually acknowledges, which is that he's got a big stack of good things that come from this heuristic, but he's also acknowledged...

Sam Harris:         01:18:49       But this actually get this. This is our core or disagreement here, which is however you want to, however the balance is going to swing. The difference between us here is that I think we read the utility of, anything, but in this case, religious thinking as evidence of you. You read it as evidence of something, perhaps it literally true...

Jordan Peterson:    01:19:14       Inevitability and depends on what you mean by literally...

Sam Harris:         01:19:18       and I view that as a kind of version of the genetic or naturalistic fallacy that is just telling a bit whether it, whether that is useful. Now here for us, it doesn't, doesn't argue that it's the best way of getting those good things. I mean, my argument here is that religion gives people bad reasons to be good, were good reasons are available. So that's a problem, right? Because good real good reasons scale better than bad reasons, and I think we can under even if you take the case where religion is clearly useful in a life saving utterly benign way, uh, in virtually all of those cases, I think I can, I can get you there by some other way without the, the downside or if not, that's just one of those cases he has the fiction was more useful than any possible truth.

Jordan Peterson:    01:20:10       How do you distinguish a religious system from an a priori, perceptual structure.

Sam Harris:         01:20:15       Well, if you can convert to it or away from it in a single conversation, I would say if it doesn't go very deep,

Jordan Peterson:    01:20:22       you're, you're only. I would say that for much of that, you're only converting at a very superficial level. Well, not converting at the level of conscious apprehension and most of your cognition is done through unconscious process. So it's just...

Sam Harris:         01:20:33       It's just a fact about us that most of people's religious attachment is born of having a drummed into them by their parents. Right? If I made it...

Jordan Peterson:    01:20:42       No by their parents and their parents' parents and their parents.

Sam Harris:         01:20:44       Yes, exactly. But if we did the same thing with Batman and Spiderman, they would have the same effect, right? Like if, if, if you relentlessly told children, right? I mean, I've, I've got two little girls who were dressed up like batgirl girl right now. They love that girl. There's nothing. I don't have to do anything to make them more enthusiastic about superheroes. Apart from just showing them the pictures of Superheroes, right? If I told them, in addition to how, look how fun this is to dress up like batgirl. In addition, you're going to burn in hell for eternity. If you lose your emotional attachment to batgirl even for a minute, right? Well then it's going to be batgirl for the rest of their lives, especially if the entire culture is, is doing. Likewise. And I, you know...

Jordan Peterson:    01:21:32       again, as Eric, as Brett pointed out already, a bad tool is better than no tool at all. And if batgirl is the closest approximation to a divine sacred that you can conjure up at beats the hell out of none at all. And if batgirl didn't partake of certain archetypal structures, no one would give a damn about batgirl after, okay, spider man and Batman. Play a role play a role in the car.

Brett Weinstein:    01:21:54       Hold on.

Jordan Peterson:    01:21:55       It's not Accidental! It's not accidental that superhero stories have a structure. And to say that, well, Batman and Spiderman are obvious fictions and we could use them...

Sam Harris:         01:22:05       No, exactly. Taking the wrong end. You're taking the wrong into this. I'm not. I'm not minimizing the power of stories, right? I'm saying we can understand their power without recourse to believing things we shouldn't believe. Now in the 21st century,

Jordan Peterson:    01:22:20       I still need an answer to the question about what it is that's this transcendent, transcendental rational structure. Without an a priori dogma because I don't see it.

Sam Harris:         01:22:33       Again, we. We touched on this a little bit last night in that I freely admitted that in every domain of human inquiry, no matter how the most hard headed, so mathematics, logic, physics, at some point we have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. At some point we make a move that is not self-justifying and is not justified by any other move that's more rudimentary, right?

Jordan Peterson:        01:22:58       That's a statement of faith...

Sam Harris:        01:23:00       no but that's a callow use of the term faith. It's not the...

Jordan Peterson:        01:23:04       No its the precise definition an axiom...

Sam Harris:        01:23:07       My faith, my faith that two plus two makes four.

Jordan Peterson:    01:23:09       That's not faith.

Sam Harris:         01:23:11       What? No, I didn't know. Is My intuition that this is a valid and replicable and generalizable principle.

Jordan Peterson:    01:23:18       No that's not faith either your statement that that's a useful claim is a statement of faith, but neither of those two statements of faith, their statements of fact,

Sam Harris:         01:23:28       They are statements of intuition none of these are. These are intuitions, these are because and their intuitions that can run a foul of other discoveries and other intuitions as you know. Which...

Jordan Peterson:    01:23:37       Well, if mathematical facts are intuitions then what are we doing with facts...

Sam Harris:         01:23:41       No take a...

Brett Weinstein:    01:23:42       So we've arrived...

Sam Harris:         01:23:43       No, no, no. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait...

Brett Weinstein:    01:23:44       We have to decide...

Sam Harris:         01:23:45       ..This is super important that we don't lose this.

Jordan Peterson:    01:23:48       Okay.

Sam Harris:         01:23:49       So we, for what? Two thousand years people have been studying geometry and had a very well worked out set of mathematical intuitions with respect to Euclidean space, you know, flat geometry. And then some brilliant guy, Ramond might've been the first said, well they actually, you can curve space. I can bend this triangle and all of a sudden it has more than 180 degrees. Right? That's an intuition that people tuned up pretty quickly, but all of humanity was blind to it for the longest time. Right? These are what I mean by intuition is it's the thing you're using to understand something that you. You are not in a position to analyze, but that's not faith of the sort which is. Listen, I know the Bible was dictated by the creator of the universe. I know Jesus was his son. I know he rose from the dead. I know he'll be coming back, and a thousand other propositional claim highly valuable.

Jordan Peterson:    01:24:51       If it's a statement of faith and it's in a value domain, how is it derivable from facts?...

Brett Weinstein:    01:24:58       so, we've arrived at the point where we have to decide whether to go to QandA or to continue the discussion. While you all are thinking about that, I would like to level of challenge to each of you and then I will poll the audience and see what they think about Q and A. okay? Okay. So, um, Jordan is arguing to you that you cannot ground the values that would undergird the modality of increasing wellbeing in anything factual. And you are arguing in response that

Jordan Peterson:    01:25:31       not without an intermediary...

Sam Harris:         01:25:33       Let me just argue in response...

Brett Weinstein:    01:25:34       hold, hold on a second.

Jordan Peterson:    01:25:35       Not Without an intermediary structure...

Brett Weinstein:    01:25:36       What I've heard you argue [to Sam] is something that I, I agree with, which is that you can ground many things in a nearly, um, objective observation of the universe, but it doesn't say anything about the value part of the equation. And in fact, I think having thought about the question from an evolutionary point of view, that in order to do what you're talking about, to increase wellbeing, you are going to have to accept that. That is going to leave you an arbitrary grounding. There is no absolute grounding for it. And you're going to have to just simply accept that it's going to make you arbitrary, that you are in fact going to have to do inconsistent things like decide to honor the love of a mother for her child and dishonor the love of country that causes one population to gas another population that's inconsistent and the need to embrace that kind of inconsistency.

Sam Harris:         01:26:28       I mean, it's just a different. I don't think that we even have the grounding problem and think it's a pseudo problem. I think

Jordan Peterson:    01:26:34       But you just said, we have to put your stuff in somewhere.

Sam Harris:         01:26:37       We have a navigate my. The way it's grounded is the acknowledgement that what we have is, It's analogous to what people do with the notion of, of meaning in life. Like what's the meaning of life? How do you find meaning in life? It was the purpose of life. These are bad questions. These are questions that when you pose them, they seem to demand. They suggest a space in which an answer must be put, but it's...

Jordan Peterson:    01:27:04       but you put an answer, you said that people should work towards the good.

Sam Harris:         01:27:08       Yes. There's a different, there's a different way of framing it, which is what we have. Here is an opportunity. It's not about, it's not a matter of meaning. It's not a matter of purpose and it's not a matter of grounding. It's a matter of we are in a circumstance where that where we have consciousness and its contents in every moment and all of this is the light the lights are on and they're on for reasons that we dimly understand right there. These are the reasons that are biological in our case, but perhaps at bottom, they're just based on information processing and their platform independent and then we would build machines for whom the life of the light is actually on or not. Right? This is, it remains to be seen whether we could actually build in our computers, conscious minds that can thrive or suffer, right and that the difference matters, but we're in the circumstance where we are trying to understand how conscious consciousness ended states arises, but one thing that is undeniable is that the lights are on and being on. They reveal a spectrum of experience that which has one end that we, the worse it gets, the more compelling it is to move away from it.

Jordan Peterson:    01:28:30       That meaning that's meaning, right?

Sam Harris:         01:28:32       Yeah. Okay. So and all of our meaning talk and value talk relates to navigating in this space. So there's, there's one end of it where things get needlessly horrible without a silver lining and there's another end where it gets better and better and non zero sum that all boats are rising with the same tide and the Israelis in the Palestinian..

Jordan Peterson:    01:28:51       That's the landscape of evil and good.

Sam Harris:         01:28:52       So okay fine. So these are compelling ways to talk about this space of navigation.

Brett Weinstein:    01:29:00       What do you do when you accept your space of navigation and there's a conflict between wellbeing for the living population of earth versus wellbeing over the maximum populations that could possibly live into the future when there's a big conflict between how much well being we are going to feel now versus how much wellbeing future human beings will get to feel.

Sam Harris:         01:29:20       Yeah. Well that, that those are legitimate ethical problems, which I think we often live in the space where we know there's a right answer that we are too selfish to fulfill or too short sided to fulfill. Like so I know there are things I do every day that not only will other people as yet unborn, wish I hadn't done. I might wake up tomorrow wishing I hadn't done those things right, so like I'm a, I'm a bad friend to my future self in some respect to say nothing of the rest of humanity so we can be so we can have failures have, we can have weakness of will, we can have failures that we can just be wrong about certain things, but it's nowhere written. That is easy to be a good person. Right?

Brett Weinstein:    01:30:06       In that case, it's not even clear what good means...

Jordan Peterson:    01:30:09       I'm saying even when we know the answer. It might be hard to be motivated by that knowledge and that because we're not a unity, right? I mean, part of, part of what wisdom is morally is an ability to be, to live integrated enough with your own, you know, better self. We have the advice you would give to a friend, and this, this just falls right out of your work as well as live as the basically treat yourself the way you would treat. I think this is your line, so you know someone new you're, you're responsible for, or there's somebody, a friend of yours, right? If you can, if you can do that, you're already ahead of who most people are most of the time, but there's no. There's no reason to say that because it's difficult or because sometimes we're looking through a glass darkly and can't figure out what the answer is. The answer doesn't exist or there is no right one.

Sam Harris:         01:30:58       Okay. Now let me try with you. [To Jordan] Yeah, so Jordan, you have argued for a, an evolved framework of religious belief in which there are elements that are morally defensible, that will be carried through time. There are elements that are morally reprehensible that will be carried through time by virtue of the fact that they are effective and you have argued that these things, because they have withstood the test of time, have some kind of value, which is not necessarily something that we should honor, but some large fraction of it must be, but that would seem to suggest that the degree to which these belief structures has value is contingent on the degree to which the environment in which we attempt to deploy these structures matches the environment in which they evolved.

Jordan Peterson:    01:31:58       Absolutely.

Brett Weinstein:    01:31:59       Now, I would argue that no population of humans has lived farther from its ancestral environment than we do.

Jordan Peterson:    01:32:08       I think that's a fallacy.

Brett Weinstein:        01:32:09       You think so because...

Jordan Peterson:        01:32:10       Well, it is and It isn't. And, and look, I think that's an absolutely valid point. Okay, so, so this gets esoteric relatively rapidly, but the question is, let's say at the highest levels of adaptation, we're adapted to the things that lasts the longest periods of time. Okay. Those are the most permanent things. Now the question is what are those most permanent things? And you know, one answer would be the fundamental material substrate of the world, and that's true. I'm going to leave that be like we were evolved to deal with gravity. Okay? But there are other elements that are higher order abstractions in some sense that are also apparently hyper real. So for example, there, There's a problem that we have a bifurcated, right? The question is, well, why did we have a bifurcated brain? And the answer seemed to not just us animals too now the answer seems to be, well, there's two necessary ways of looking at the world and they have to be in conflict to some degree in order to work properly. The right hemisphere mode and the left hemisphere, the right hemisphere mode is a lot more metaphorical than the left hemisphere. The right hemisphere is the hemisphere that seems to deal with exceptions to the rule and it seems to deal with exceptions to the rule by by treating them, by aggregating them, and then trying to recognize patterns that unite them as a corrective to the totalitarian system in some sense that the left hemisphere imposes. You could say that the right and the left are adapted for something like explored territory for the left and unexplored territory for the right. I've characterized that is order versus chaos and I see. I think the religious landscape is good versus evil to Sam's point that we should strive for a good life on a landscape of chaos versus order, and I think that landscape is permanent. Now I know we've moved from our African ancestral homeland, but these, this underlying abstraction, this underlying, this underlying reality is so profound that it it, it maintains its validity across all sets of potential environmental transformations.

Brett Weinstein:    01:34:08       Well, okay, ...

Sam Harris:         01:34:10       Can I just jump in here because here's why just to seize on one piece you put in play there. Here's why good and evil cannot be permanent in the usual sense. Certainly not in the Christian or Judeo Christian sense. One is the Judeo Christian notion of good and evil doesn't even map onto to eastern religion.

Jordan Peterson:    01:34:31       But Sam You made a good evil versus good claim in the moral landscape...

Sam Harris:         01:34:35       but it's also in an eastern context and a Buddhist or Hindu context. The evil isn't really evil. It's just ignorance now you might dispute that you might say, well that's not really that they haven't met a sufficiently evil person that you think would think that, but the reality is there are billions of people who have a different rubric under which they look at these things and...

Jordan Peterson:    01:34:55       But sam You can't make the case...

Sam Harris:         01:34:56       But let's let. Let me add another another piece here...

Brett Weinstein:    01:34:58       Wait wait wait we need to ask them, okay, do you guys [the audience]want this conversation to continue or do you want q and a to begin?

Brett Weinstein:    01:35:07       I don't know which one you're cheering for first group is the group that wants this conversation to continue. [Loud applause] Thank you. Now the group that would prefer Qa, [Slightly quieter applause] Ok that was the former,

Sam Harris:          01:35:34       What's disturbing is that many of the same people were clapping, that proves what Jordan was saying about the two hemispheres of the brain metaphor.

Jordan Peterson:    01:35:43       So look I mean it seems to me, and again, correct me if I'm wrong, is that you made an absolute world claim in the moral landscape and that's what grounds here argument ...

Sam Harris:         01:35:56       Let's take the evil piece because it will be interesting if it's not totally on point. The reason why evil is susceptible to total deflation is if you agree with me, a evil is a category of human misbehavior, human intention that we don't understand significantly at the level of the brain, but if we did understand it totally at the level of the brain than every evil person we had in the doc at trial would be just like Charles Whitman with his brain tumor after he shot up everyone at the University of Texas. Right? So like he, he's at, he's the prototypically evil mass murder, but he's complaining about this change that overcame his personality and he thinks it would be good. Be a good idea that if after the cops kill me, you autopsy my brain because I don't know why I'm doing any of this. Right. And Lo and behold, he had a glioblastoma pressing on his amygdala and all of a sudden it made sense of his behavior in a way that a full understanding of psychopathy or every other variant of human evil would make sense of it in a way that wouldn't be deflationary ethically. And then you would look at. So then you look at someone like Saddam Hussein or the the, the worst evil person you could imagine, and you would say, well, he's actually unlucky know there, but for the grace of biology, go on. Because if I had that brain, if I had those genes, if I had those influences that gave me those synapses, I would be just like him. Now, if you think there's some other element that gives us free will and now then, then, then you and I are disagreeing that that's a factual claim. That's at variance with mind. But, but if we are just on some level now a malfunctioning biological systems when we're being evil than a complete understanding of evil would cancel that category.

Brett Weinstein:    01:37:48       Can you define evil. So we know what you're talking about.

Sam Harris:         01:37:50       Well, just take, take just the worst people who have sadistically victimized the most people and those are the evilest people we can name.

Brett Weinstein:    01:37:59       So when you say, so I think this is actually really important because I think actual evil of that kind is pretty darn rare. And there's a lot of badness that immediate...

Sam Harris:         01:38:07       Oh yeah, well the most troubling thing or all the good people doing evil because they, they're ruled by bad ideas and, but that I think is more consequential than we actually...

Jordan Peterson:    01:38:15       We introduced a whole set of other things here in the last little round with freewill and evil, but...

Sam Harris:         01:38:21       but, but just to, I want to make it clear why I went there. So you were saying this is, this is, this is, I forgot the word. You used inevitable or a permit. The applications that this category is permanent and I'm saying that I don't think but equal in that sense as a permanent category for us. They awaits more information and

Jordan Peterson:    01:38:43       okay, we're going to distinguish for a minute. Good versus evil and good versus bad. Just for the sake of conceptual clarity in the moral landscape, you make a fundamental axiomatic claim, looks like a moral claim, maybe its claim of fact, and the claim is there are bad lives and good lives. Sure. And the claim you make, is that Universally true?

Sam Harris:         01:39:07       It's true for the requisite lives...

Jordan Peterson:    01:39:10       Buddhist, Hindu doesn't matter...

Sam Harris:         01:39:12       Okay, but evil. So yes, I'm not, I'm not telling you that you should purge the evil from your your vocabulary. I use the word all the time and I think it's useful to motivating word. I'm just saying that it's there. We can understand this continuum of good and bad or positive and negative in ways that don't use the. Certainly don't use the Judeo Christian framework for value in these things because if you, if you take the Buddhist framework and map it onto this, this continuum, you don't get good and evil. You get essentially wisdom and ignorance in an evil is ignorance of all the wellbeing you would you and others would experience if you behaved another way, right? That's the Buddhist game and and or even within Hinduism and they get this connects to your, your, your love of stories. You take the Hindu text. The Ramayana, which has just a foundation is doing work that the Bible is doing for Jews and Christians in that. The worst guy in the Ramayana, the 10 headed Demon Rovena, the prototypically evil person is at bottom. Really not a bad guy. He's a great sage. Who is just, you know, in a bad mood essentially, right? Maybe he was. He was. He was obscured by ignorance and so it isn't the Buddhist cannon, the Buddhist Buddha made say a serial killer who knows where at a garland of human fingers around his neck named Anguli Mala, but he was just one conversation away from being fully enlightened. Right? I mean, he was like, this is a different picture of a possibility. I'm not saying one is right or wrong. Let's be agnostic about that. I'm just, I'm challenging your claim that there's something so precious and, and useful and durable about the Judeo Christian framework what we're stuck with it for all time.

Jordan Peterson:    01:40:59       I wasn't making that claim. I was making the claim that in the moral landscape you laid out a distinction between the bad life in the good life. Forget about good and evil, the bad life and the good life. Hell and heaven, the bad life and the good life, and that that distinction was not only factual but universal ...

Sam Harris:         01:41:17       and so is it the right mind? So we could imagine a mind. I mean, this is an example. I think I think I can in a right mind, but we could. We could create circumstances that seemed perverse to us that we would recoil from. You could you could create a a universe of perfectly matched sadists to masochists say right, so you have the people who are real sadist, so in our world would be terrible actors, but in their world they're surrounded by people who want to be mistreated.

Jordan Peterson:    01:41:45       If you're a real sadist, you never mistreat a masochist when asked. [Laughter]

Sam Harris:         01:41:50       These are... Granted.. for the human categories even exists, but in some undoubtedly we could create something like an artificial intelligence that could be google. It could be paired this way and that would be weird, but on my in my framework, it is it conceivable space of equivalent wellbeing and if it's not matched at all to our space rights, but it's if in fact we could inspect the conscious minds of all parties participate in that. It is not obviously absurd by in my view to say that they are just as happy as we are in his conversation. In fact, some moments in this conversation I would say that they might be happier.

Jordan Peterson:    01:42:43       No, it's been good. It's been good. So let me, let me ask you a question here about wellbeing because this is something I've wanted to ask you about but we never seem to get to is so you think that we should maximize wellbeing and that's part of your proposition, which, which I don't entirely disagree with by the way that we should ground our value structures in fact, but, but, but there's a black box problem. They're like, I think the black box problem about the apriori structure that we use to extract the facts of the world out and the black box problem is if we could measure wellbeing, it's like, yeah, that's a big problem Sam. Like we have measures of wellbeing and they're terrible. Yeah. Like if you. Yes they are.

Sam Harris:         01:43:23       No, I'm agreeing. I don't think. I don't think it's, but it's not a problem for my thesis is we don't have measures for anything we care about.

Jordan Peterson:    01:43:31       But I mean, if, if your, if your thesis is that if we had the measures of wellbeing that were appropriate, we could use them in a positive way and the responses, but we don't have those measures. It's like, okay, well then what do we do?

Sam Harris:         01:43:43       Oh No, no, we have. But we have measures. I mean this conversation is a measure. I don't like that. That's a measure, or you step on my toe and I say ouch, that's a measure. Don't do that.

Jordan Peterson:    01:43:52       Again, that's not a measure of your wellbeing. It might be a measure of your trait neuroticism, which is a measure of noise, but technically if you look at the wellbeing measures that we have degenerated to measures of neuroticism.

Sam Harris:         01:44:09       But we don't, but we don't have measures of certainty, of belief, of compassion, of joy, of, of any, any of these conscious states we have. We have neural correlates of some of them, but we don't have. We got, there's no. I can put a helmet I can put on...

Brett Weinstein:    01:44:26       Hold on.

Jordan Peterson:    01:44:27       It's about them to orient ourselves in the world then?

Sam Harris:         01:44:29       because we're doing that. We're doing this all the time.

Brett Weinstein:    01:44:33       If you've got an instantaneous measure though, you've got an instantaneous measure of wellbeing, we can all check with ourselves, see how we feel...

Sam Harris:         01:44:39       but it's possible to be wrong about this later.

Brett Weinstein:    01:44:44       But, uh, it degrades as you get away from the individual's ability to check internally on the internal.

Jordan Peterson:    01:44:52       The internal thing isn't reliable. You're happy when you're doing things that'll take...

Brett Weinstein:    01:44:57       Sure you can take a drug that would make you feel very good and would cause you to take apart your own life because...

Jordan Peterson:    01:45:01       You mean like cocaine.

Brett Weinstein:    01:45:03       Exactly, It would destroy the motivational structure that gets you to do stuff of value that, uh, that your...

Jordan Peterson:    01:45:08       right so we can't use emotion. Well, that's a moment of emotion as an indicator of...

Brett Weinstein:    01:45:13       Instantaneous is not good, but you have a parallel problem. It looks to me like the exact mirror image, which is that you've got at an integrative longterm measure of wellbeing instantiated in an evolutionary belief system, but it's coming apart because we are living in circumstances that are less well mirrored. The present does not mirror the past and therefore these truths which you believe are timeless, are degrading rapidly.

Jordan Peterson:    01:45:41       That's part of their. That's exactly right.

Brett Weinstein:    01:45:43       Okay, so what Sam is arguing is that the tools to pivot in order to improve our way of interacting, those are not the tools of long standing tradition. Those are the tools of rational engagement...

Jordan Peterson:    01:45:57       respect for that process as part of the long standing tradition...

Brett Weinstein:    01:46:00       Yes, that's true.

Jordan Peterson:    01:46:01       Yeah, but that's a big truth, man. That's a major league truth. In fact, I would say the fundamental tradition, the most fundamental tradition of the West says that respect for the process that updates moral judgment is the highest of all possible values and that's also built into the tradition strangely enough.

Brett Weinstein:    01:46:19       I agree it's built into the, into the tradition, but I would argue that it is very likely to be compartmentalized. In other words. I was a little bit struck when you said that. Um, what did you say about scaling? You said that...

Sam Harris:         01:46:38       good reasons scale and bad reasons don't.

Brett Weinstein:    01:46:40       Isn't that the opposite of the truth? calling if you're calling these stories that give prescriptions for how to behave bad ideas, the point is those stories propagate very easily, was so. Whereas, so if we want to talk about the gun and whether it is loaded, the idea that the gun is definitely loaded that scales really easily, right? You can pass that along in one sentence.

Sam Harris:         01:47:05       Being wrong about a loaded gun. Also scale, right?

Brett Weinstein:    01:47:09       No, no no. You want to talk to people about very small possibilities of very dire things happening. They trip over it. It's hard thing to get. It's almost impossible for children to get it. So the point is the one thing does scale story that says yeah, every gun is loaded. It's a false story, but that one definitely scaled this statistical reality of guns and the fact that they may indeed beyond loaded, but you don't want to play around with the remote possibility that one day you'll get it wrong, right? That doesn't scale because it requires you to have experience with stuff that is not common.

Sam Harris:         01:47:44       Right? Well, so, so the two things there, one of you bring up an, an ancillary but very important point, which is that moral progress here is often the result of moving from our story-driven protagonists driven intuitions to something far more quantified. Right? So I mean this is a classic, you know, moral study done by Paul Slovako, I'm sure you are aware of where you tell people about one needy little girl in Africa and you give her a name and, and, and show her picture and what you elicit is the maximum altruistic, compassionate response from subjects. You go to another group of subjects. You tell them about the same little girl, give her the same name, but also tell them about her needy little brother, right? Who has the same need and their response diminishes, right? That just the addition of a single person diminishes the response. And this is just, this is a moral fallacy that we're all living out everyday because if you care about this one little girl, you should care at least as much about the fate of her and her brother. And when you add statistics,

Jordan Peterson:    01:48:53       no, no, you shouldn't because you'll exhaust yourself in the attempt.

Sam Harris:         01:48:59       No, because we need...

Jordan Peterson:    01:49:00       What do you want to care for 100 people, with the same intensity as for one?

Sam Harris:         01:49:04       This is what this. This is what this software flawed gets us. It gets us people who will watch for hours a day with, with, with effortless and and tear stained compassion. The saga of the little girl who fell down the well, but who will blindly turn the channel when they're hearing about a genocide that is raging, the hundreds of thousands have already died. [Applause]

Jordan Peterson:    01:49:32       Listen guys...

Sam Harris:         01:49:32       this is something we have to let ...We have to correct for this no no No, I'm not talking about personnel, but you're misunderstood. You're misunderstanding me to great effect here. That if I'm not saying that you should personally be overwhelmed by the death toll everyday you. I'm not saying that it's functional for you and I to each personally get up each morning and just drink deep of the full horror of all the bad luck that has spread.

Jordan Peterson:    01:49:57       No, maybe it is, but maybe we can't have that...

Sam Harris:         01:49:59       But as societies we need a. When you're talking about how how we spend our money, how we get a portion foreign aid, the kinds of wars we fight or don't fight, it had to be... Then we have to correct for what is in fact a moral illusion, which is we know that if we tell one little, we tell one compelling story about a little girl, right? We could go to war over that, right? Whereas we won't be motivated by a genocide. That's the kind of thing that moves whole societies now and if if you add to it, the bogus religious sanctity is if you. If if you. If we burned a Koran on this stage tonight, the rest of the rest of our lives would be spent in hiding, right? Because of how motivated people would be to to address that pseudo problem. Right? That's the world we're living. And civilization in so far as we have a purchase on. It is a matter of correcting for those errors and religion for the most part, not across the board, but for the most part is standing in the way of those course corrections.

Jordan Peterson:    01:51:11       Well, okay, there. There was a tremendous amount to unpack in that. I mean and and like in some sense, a surprising amount. It's like, well, we have, we're, we're wired to feel intense empathy for individuals who are close to us and we can be told stories in a manner that, that makes that system manifest itself and everyone and their dog thinks that that's a wonderful thing and we call that empathy, right? And empathy has a narrow domain of utility as it turns out, because how. I mean maybe if you were all who you should be, you'd be weeping constantly for the catastrophic fate of sentient beings on the earth, but you can't handle it. You know what I mean? It's that you can barely handle your own suffering and maybe you can handle a bit of the suffering of your family and more power to you. If you could rectify that and if you were better human beings, maybe you could expand that outwards, but the fact that our empathy doesn't scale up to the level of genocide with the same intensity that we treat instances of individuals suffering isn't an indication that we're irrational. It's just an indication that we're limited.

Sam Harris:         01:51:11       That's not true.

Brett Weinstein:    01:52:21       I think this is an indication of exactly of our evolved structures. Not matching the present because the point...

Jordan Peterson:    01:52:26       But they do match because we take care of our families...

Brett Weinstein:    01:52:28       but they don't match. Because if you encountered the starving girl that's some sort of a. it's a crude measure of suffering in your local environment. Were you in the past now that you can encounter this girl on the television? It's not clear what it should mean to you. Right? Right. You can't calibrate

Jordan Peterson:    01:52:47       You might if get your act together...

Brett Weinstein:    01:52:48       Right, and so the. So the point is your indifference to a genocide, which is an abstraction, right, is altered. Should you see pictures of the bodies, for example, you shouldn't actually feel differently about the genocide in the abstract case versus the the case that you're looking at the bodies. And the fact that we have access to photo realistic,

Sam Harris:         01:53:14       it's worse than that this is why it's actually irrational because I can show you the case where you care at level 10 about the little girl named Lila and you care at level eight about the little girl named Lila and her brother named Giante, right? And you care at level four if I've added a few more kids, but the little girl named Lila who was ostensibly care about is there and each one of these rights...

Jordan Peterson:    01:53:44       Yeah but your resources diminished [unintelligeble] of the suffering...

Sam Harris:         01:53:46       You have $10 to give away every month to help start struggling and humanity and you tell me you'll give 10 to lila this month and, and, and then I catch you in another moment and I say, well, you know, it's Leila and her brother. So it's like if you only can give 10, I understand, but you know, the problem is actually worse than I suspected. And you say, well not actually I am just going to give eight, right? It, it's, it's not coherent with your how much you cared about Leila and the first place

Jordan Peterson:    01:54:14       we do know we do know quite well. The heuristics that we use to orient ourselves in the world can be placed into frameworks where they produce contradictory outcomes, but that doesn't mean that the heuristics themselves are deeply flawed. It's that it's a problem with the work of people like Kahneman and Tversky...

Sam Harris:         01:54:30       But we need to correct for them because they're producing reliable results that we recognize...

Jordan Peterson:    01:54:35       yeah you can put them in a situation where they produce a counterproductive response, but that doesn't mean that generally speaking, in most situations they don't produce a useful outcome because the question is why in the hell, what did they evolved? If most of the time...

Sam Harris:         01:54:47       They evolved to live with 150 people with whom we're related and to be terrified of the people in the next valley who may want to kill and eat us. Yes, and that's, I mean, that's our ancient circumstance which doesn't map onto a common humanity of 7 billion people trying to figure out how to get to Mars without killing each other.

Jordan Peterson:    01:55:06       Well, it, it does map onto it sometimes, unfortunately, because there are many times when we still face the same kind of hence look at maps. Look it maps onto your concern Sam. You wouldn't be concerned about the fundamentalists, terror of Islam if you weren't driven by those. Essentially tribal considerations, not suggesting...

Sam Harris:         01:55:25       It doesn't require if my a mere identification with humanity, it can ground not wanting to be murdered by people who identified with a subset of humanity. Right? Like I don't need to be part of a smaller tribe to care that people will murder me over burning the Koran. Right? It's, it's, it's clearly counterproductive that we live in a society where some objects are held with such totemic attachment for irrational reasons, by many, many millions of people were, you know, you should be sympathetic with this. Our free speech is actually canceled on this point, right? You literally can't produce cartoons. I have scholarly works about the cartoon price if we don't show the cartoon,

Jordan Peterson:    01:56:12       We have no argument whatsoever between us about the lack of utility of...

Sam Harris:         01:56:16       you don't have to be identified as a, as a Christian or a Jew to push back against that, you just have to be a human being that sees the dysfunction of a smaller kind of provincialism

Jordan Peterson:    01:56:29       well, the thing that I'm struggling with is that I still can't understand in what your ethos is, is is grounded because you. You claim like a transcendental rationalism, but you won't identify the structures that produce it. It's a black box and when I tried to push you on the absolute nature of your ethical claim, which is that the bad life is worse than the good life and that we should in fact universally work towards the good life. It doesn't seem to me that you'll accept the proposition that that's a universal claim.

Sam Harris:         01:56:56       It. No, it is. It is. Well, I should is irrelevant here. It's just the fact that there is the possibility of moving in this space. If you move in the wrong direction, if you move far enough, you'll like it less and less. Given the minds you have...

Brett Weinstein:    01:57:17       what if you had to accept moving in the wrong direction and experiencing less and less wellbeing in order to get to a better place in? Well, and maybe even just to survive supposedly. Suppose the population has to endure a generation and a half of misery in order to persist for another say...

Sam Harris:         01:57:35       Ethically that's a perfectly intelligible circumstance that people have had to face. And it's in my, on my moral landscape, it's analogous to what we were were we might be at one local maximum or your or the some high point, but we're moving in a down a slope to get to yet some higher place. Right? So certain things, some things may only be possible if we made some painful and net unpleasant sacrifice. Yes. And so that, but that's, that can be rationally apprehended. There can be an argument for that. It could be a way or you know, we all have to go on a diet, otherwise we're gonna, you know, we're going to die of this problem, right? We all have to stop eating whatever it is, wheat, right? It's a hard sacrifice for people who have to stop it as, you know, if that were true well and there'd be an argument for it, there'd be evidence that would convince us we would stop, we would feel the pain and we would, we would get whatever benefit with that was on the other side of that sacrifice. But again, you don't have to. If the utility again to come bring it back to stories at which, as you know, not my emphasis, but it is yours. The, the utility of stories is not something I'm arguing against. I mean there's no question that certain stories are incredibly compelling and in our conversation with one another, the moment you begin to frame something in terms of a story, people become much more interested right now. Like if, uh, 90 percent of what we said together tonight, were framed each, each point we were making as a matter of philosophy or, or, or science were framed in ...Well, Actually, you know, yesterday I was walking on the street and I met this guy is a terrifying looking guy and all of a sudden people become much more interested. Right? And then that's not an accident and that says something deep about us that we could understand that in evolutionary terms and we might in fact one to creatively leverage to be better people, to have better conversations.

Jordan Peterson:    01:59:36       Definitely. Yes. So, so that's what I think.

Sam Harris:         01:59:38       There's nothing, there's nothing that I say in opposition to religious dogmatism and religious sectarianism, that discounts, that reality and that's a psychological reality is a cultural reality and I'm not against making the most of it. My, my basic claim, however, is that we never need to believe that one of our books may not have a human origin. In order to do that effectively, you can. You can be just as compelled by the example of somebody like Jesus or some more modern person who strikes you as a moral hero and a deeply wise without believing anything on insufficient evidence. And if and and as I, as you alluded to purely fictional stories about superheros can have immense effect on us and that's something we could understand and also leverage. But again, that takes us out of the religion business and that's, that's all I've been arguing for.

Brett Weinstein:    02:00:37       So do you really believe that's the belief in the supernatural aspect of these stories never alters the calculus of what people should do, that the divine nature of a story about Jesus doesn't motivate people to do something that they might not have the courage to do otherwise. The belief that they might end up in heaven because their good work is going to be observed. It doesn't alter their behavior.

Sam Harris:         02:01:03       Well, yeah, I know it alters their behavior, but rather offen for the bad. Well, I mean this is why this is what worries me about. And I think there's something there. There's a profound net negative that we are paying the price for every day by believing in paradise, right? A belief, a belief that this life, it probably doesn't matter very much at all because we get. What we really want after we die is forget about the evidentiary basis for that belief, It's ruinous for prioritizing what we should be prioritizing in this life.

Jordan Peterson:    02:01:42       I agree with that, by the way.

Sam Harris:         02:01:44       Yeah. Well that's interesting.

Brett Weinstein:    02:01:49       So, um, let me ask you this, I hear from you what might be a kind of confirmation bias where I hear that, you know, we've got a mixed bag. You've got supernatural claims, these supernatural claims, we all agree have effects on the way people actually behave and you're quite focused on the negative and you tend to discount the positive which might be an artifact of the fact that we're talking about the present and therefore maybe something that's not well matched to these stories or it might be from the idea that you have the sense that there is actually a bias that these belief structures do and have always produced more harm than good.

Sam Harris:         02:02:31       And also my sense that the positive can be had without those structures. So they, if you're talking about the, the, the, the contemplative experience, like is it possible to have to feed the wake up tomorrow morning feeling like my surette cart, right? Feeling like you're just inseparable from the pure capital b Being that is consciousness, right and the. And there's no separate self there, right though the self transcending union with everything you can perceive, right? I think that can be had without any kind of religious dogmatism it's just a matter of paying close enough attention to the nature of consciousness. So the contemplative life is one baby in the bathwater, we can save the ethical life is another baby. We can say you don't have to presuppose anything on insufficient evidence to argue about what is right and wrong and good and evil in the 21st century.

Brett Weinstein:    02:03:23       Is it fair to call that a hypothesis that not just for some people but for everyone, the level of wellbeing can be enhanced through rational interaction with the questions that dictate what we do. Is that a hypothesis float?

Sam Harris:         02:03:40       That's a hypothesis that the one additional fact that we that makes that more or less moot is that on certain points, even if we felt that really believing the fiction were what was it was advantageous to people, depending on which fiction you're talking about, there's simply just there's too much evidence against it that you can't. You can't decide to believe something for which you have no evidence simply because of the good effects, the good experience it will give you or you imagine it will give you. I mean, that's so. That's why Pascal's wager never made any sense, but you can't say, and the only way you can believe something to be true, really true, not just metaphorically true, is to believe that if it weren't true, you wouldn't believe it. They stand at some relationship to its truth, such that that is the reason why you believe it. Now, you can't say, you can't be telling yourself, you know, I have no evidence for this thing, but I know life would be better if I believed it to be true, and so therefore I really believe it's true.

Brett Weinstein:    02:04:45       You don't think people do that all the time?

Sam Harris:         02:04:47       I don't think they do. I think they do things much more like we're talking the metaphorical truth we're talking about you. We act as if things are true without forming any strong propositional claim. And that's fine. That's fine. That, that has its own utility.

Brett Weinstein:    02:05:03       You don't think this is basically, I mean, we all suspended disbelief when we go and watch a movie and we sort of entitled the movie maker to um, to set the ground rules of the space and if it's Harry Potter, than there are magic magical things that can happen. And if it's some other story, maybe there aren't. So we all have a mechanism whereby we know we can suspend disbelief. And it's interesting to me that you seem not to imagine that people are doing that with respect to metaphysical beliefs that have implications for what the right actions that they should take our why. Why wouldn't it be the case that that same sort of mechanism would apply?

Sam Harris:         02:05:40       Well, it does apply, but there are people who are clearly doing much more than that. So I'm not. If, if that's all people were doing under the ages of religion, I wouldn't spend much time worrying about religion, but that to some degree that's what people do, you know, as you say, go into caring about things that at bottom we really shouldn't care about. So the World Cup is on right now and we're literally billions of people care care down to their toes. What happens to this little ball as it traverses a lawn? Right? And if it goes into the net, it really matters. If it fails to...

Jordan Peterson:    02:06:19       It always matters if we hit the target Sam.

Sam Harris:         02:06:22       But this is, this is something we have manufactured to care about it Right?

Jordan Peterson:    02:06:27       No its something that speaks to us unbelievably...

Sam Harris:         02:06:28       it's quite literally a game, a game that people are playing. but some people take it in, taking it further than you, than, than seems truly rational is part of the fun. That's but, but the, but the people who can't turn that off...

Jordan Peterson:    02:06:45       It's metaphor. Soccer is a metaphor...

Sam Harris:         02:06:46       but there. But there are people who are there, you know, there are people you know, the, the fullback who kicks an own goal and then goes back to his South American village and gets murdered. Right. He's surrounded by people who were taking the game too seriously.

Jordan Peterson:    02:06:59       Yeah. Okay. I agree. Yeah.

Sam Harris:         02:07:01       And so my problem with religion is that so much of a time we're meeting those people and we're at work and we're not criticizing those people. We have no place to stand to criticize those people because we're so attached to the game.

Jordan Peterson:    02:07:14       Fair enough. Why don't we do this? Why don't we each take three minutes to sum up.

Brett Weinstein:    02:07:20       I think. Yeah, we are there. We're at the end of time. So why don't you each take three minutes, some up and then we'll call it good. Yup. I'm sure Sam went last. Do you want to go first here?

Jordan Peterson:    02:07:31       Okay. So there's lots of things about which Sam and I agree, but the devil's in the details. Of course. Now I, I'm very sympathetic to his claim that we need to ground our ethical systems in something solid and demonstrable. My problem is I'm not sure how to do that, I don't believe that you can derive a value structure from your experience of the observable facts. There's too many facts you need to structure to interpret them and there isn't very much of you. And so part of the reason, part of the way that that's addressed neurologically is that you have an inbuilt structure. It's deep. It's partly biological. It's partly an emergent consequence of, of your socialization and you view the world of facts through that structure and it's a structure of value. Now that structure value may be derived from the world of facts over the evolutionary timeframe, but it's not derived from the world of facts over the timeframe that you inhabit and it can't be. So. The problem I have with our discussion so far isn't really any of Sam's fundamental ethical claims because I do believe there's a distinction between the hellish life and the heavenly life. Say the life that everyone would agree with absolutely not worth living and the life we could imagine as good. And I do believe that we should be moving from one to the other. The question is exactly how is it that we make the decisions that will guide us along that way. And I don't believe we can make them without that a priori structure. In fact, I think the evidence is absolutely overwhelming that we can't. And I mean also the scientific evidence and I would like to go further into the devil that's in those details. And so that's my situation at the moment. Thank you.

Sam Harris:         02:09:49       Well part of these conversations. And now if you, and I've had I think four concrete, we've done two podcasts in this, our second live event. And thank you for doing this, By the way, this is

Jordan Peterson:    02:10:02       Hey, it's my pleasure

Sam Harris:         02:10:09       Honored to do this. And it's, uh, it comes with risks for both of us to do this minute. I think you can sense we don't have precisely the same audiences. All of you are sort of rooting for one or the other of us to some degree...

Jordan Peterson:    02:10:25       or for the spirit of truth.

Sam Harris:         02:10:34       And clearly the conversation is the point, right? Though this conversation had the character at many moments of a debate. I don't think either of us view it as a debate in in the trivial sense is not about point scoring. It's about making sense in a way that's consequential because we're talking about issues of great consequence and you obviously care about these things and it matters whether we converge on the most important questions in human life and as you know, I'm worried that religion doesn't give us the tools we need to converge. What does give us the tools is a truly open ended conversation and what then you simply have to look honestly at the obstacles toward any conversation being open ended, and religion presents those first and most readily. It's. It is a the idea that certain things have been decided for all time and there's no future evidence or argument that is admissible on those points. Now. That is clearly bad. Everywhere in science. It's bad everywhere in in how we renegotiate our proximity to one another in society, in new laws and new ideas are born all the time about how to structure institutions and social relationships. Because new things happen, I mean we didn't have an internet and then we did, so our old laws and our old expectations of human communication simply don't work in the presence of this new thing. Right? So we have to figure out. We, again, it's a navigation problem and what I'm perpetually in contest with a even in conversations like this is the sense that the rules need to change just a little bit for this class of books that literally this side of the bookstore, right? That's like any other part of the bookstore will then there's no barrier to honest conversation, but you move over here. They got this shelf of books there. You have to hold your tongue right there. We can't pick and choose. We can't say that. While we can say that Shakespeare wrote some fantastic players, the best players ever written and some are actually not that good, right? We can't say that about God, right? We have to find some tortured way to make the most of his diabolical utterances. Right. That's the thing we have to outgrow and so what I'm continually intention with you is the degree to which your style of talking about religion and narrative, the power of narrative and and the meaning derived from it aligns that point and seems to let people off the hook on that very point and that's the, That's where we need to hold the line. In my view, we need to. We need to... that, that it has to be clear to us at this moment in history that no one has the right to their religious sectarianism. Really. I mean it up to the point. Clearly there's a, there's a soccer, there's a World Cup version of it that has benign, but once it gets taken past that point, we we have to figure out how to pull the brakes and that becomes a real problem. If your, if you were going to dignify the foundational claims of these faiths claims like revelation and paradise and blasphemy and apostasy. I mean, these are things that you come up against and I think conversations like this are incredibly important because we need to convince the better part of humanity that is possible to live the best life possible without recourse to divisive nonsense and where we draw the line between devices of nonsense and reasoned, unnecessary discourse is what we're bickering over and I think, I think it's important that we continue.

Brett Weinstein:    02:15:06       In closing, let me say, first of all, I'm tremendously honored that you asked me to moderate these debates.

Sam Harris:         02:15:15       Fantastic.

Brett Weinstein:    02:15:23       It was a truly remarkable experience. As for what was accomplished, I think it was a tremendous amount. I saw both of you move. I saw both of you exhibit tremendous generosity of spirit towards the other and I think this has exceeded my expectations of what might've been possible in these discussions by quite a bit. Um, and that also I will say has a lot to do with the fact that for reasons I think none of us can explain a huge amount of people, a huge population seems to care about these issues because they matter a great deal. So anyway, I think this has been a very successful exercise and I think you can both be quite proud of what you've done.

Travis Pangburn:    02:16:06       Alright, let's give a huge round of applause for our speakers tonight!

Jordan Peterson:    02:16:23       Thank you very much.

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Travis Pangburn:    00:00:00       All Right, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Douglas Murray, Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris.

Sam Harris:         00:00:38       Thank you all for coming out.

Douglas Murray:     00:00:40       Well, good evening Dublin. As you've just heard, Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris met the first time in person two weeks ago now in Vancouver. They covered an enormous amount of ground and there is, I think, an enormous amount of ground still to cover, but I've asked them if they would start this evening in the following way. You're all familiar with a straw manning. Anyone who follows politics, knows straw manning, but I've asked them to do the opposite tonight. Just start by steel manning the arguments of each other to present in the best possible, most fair, most r…

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Douglas Murray:     00:00:26       Well, good evening, London. Two weeks ago, Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson met in person for the first time on stage in Vancouver two nights ago. The three of us got together for the first time in Dublin and it's a huge thrill for all of us to now be here with you in here too. As I said to Travis when these events were planned, I'm not moderate enough to be a moderator, but I'm going to do a little bit of a fielding to begin with, so let me start by saying a little of some of the ground we are going to be trying to cover here tonight. We're going to be dealing with the conflict between science and reason. We're going to be addressing the legitimacy. Did I say science and reason science and reason? [Yes.] We're not addressing that. We're going to be looking at the legitimacy …