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Making Sense with Sam Harris

Making Sense with Sam Harris

Join neuroscientist, philosopher, and best-selling author Sam Harris as he explores important and controversial questions about the human mind, society, and current events. Sam Harris is the author of five New York Times bestsellers. His books include The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Lying, Waking Up, and Islam and the Future of Tolerance (with Maajid Nawaz). The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. His writing and public lectures cover a wide range of topics?neuroscience, moral philosophy, religion, meditation practice, human violence, rationality?but generally focus on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live. Harris's work has been published in more than 20 languages and has been discussed in The New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. He has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Annals of Neurology, and elsewhere. Sam Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.

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Episodes

#225 ? Republic of Lies

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris discusses President Trump's failure to concede the 2020 presidential election.

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2020-11-18
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#224 ? The Key to Trump's Appeal

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris describes his new understanding of why people support President Trump.

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2020-11-03
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#223 ? October 30, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan sing the praises of President Trump.

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2020-10-30
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#222 ? A Pandemic of Incompetence

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Nicholas Christakis about the Covid-19 pandemic. They discuss the breakdown of trust in institutions and experts, the corruption of science by politics, the ineptitude of the Trump administration in handling the pandemic, whether the gravity of Covid-19 has been exaggerated, preparing for future pandemics, whether Covid deaths are being over-reported, bad incentives in the medical system, tracking "excess death" statistics, the prospect that the novel coronavirus will evolve to become more benign, the efficacy of current treatments, safety concerns about a rushed vaccine, the importance of public health communication, when life might return to normal, the economic impact of the pandemic, long term social changes, the future of universities, Nicholas's personal habits during the pandemic, the importance of rapid testing, and other topics.

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2020-10-28
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#221 ? Success, Failure, & the Common Good

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Michael Sandel about the problem with meritocracy . They discuss the dark side of the concept of merit, the pernicious myth of the self-made man, the moral significance of luck, the backlash against "elites" and expertise, how we value human excellence, the connection between wealth and value creation, the ethics of the tax code, higher education as a sorting mechanism for a caste system, alternatives to 4-year colleges, and other topics.

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2020-10-22
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#220 - The Information Apocalypse

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Nina Schick about the growing epidemic of misinformation and disinformation. They discuss the coming problem of ?deep fakes,? the history of Russian ?active measures? against the West, the weaponization of the EU migration crisis, Russian targeting of the African-American community, the future of Europe, Trump and rise of political cynicism, QAnon, the prospect of violence surrounding the 2020 Presidential election, and other topics.

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2020-10-17
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#219 ? The Power of Compassion

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with James R. Doty about his memoir ?Into the Magic Shop.? They discuss the significance of childhood stress, the possibility of changing one?s core beliefs about oneself, the relationship between surgeons and their patients, the nature of compassion, the Dalai Lama, the relationship between wealth and empathy, the worsening problem of social inequality, the physiology of compassion, the broken healthcare system in the U.S., and other topics.

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2020-10-09
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#218 ? Welcome to the Cult Factory

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Tristan Harris about the ways in which social media is fracturing society. They discuss the rise in teen depression and suicide, political polarization, conspiracy theories, information warfare, the decoupling of power and responsibility, the distinctions between platforms and publishers, the cancellation of Alex Jones, social media-inspired ethnic cleansing, concerns about the upcoming presidential election, culture as an operating system, and other topics.

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2020-09-25
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#217 ? The New Religion of Anti-Racism

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with John McWhorter about race, racism, and ?anti-racism? in America. They discuss how conceptions of racism have changed, the ubiquitous threat of being branded a ?racist,? the contradictions within identity politics, recent echoes of the OJ verdict, willingness among progressives to lose the 2020 election, racism as the all-purpose explanation of racial disparities in the U.S., double standards for the black community, the war on drugs, the lure of identity politics, police violence, the enduring riddle of affirmative action, the politics of ?black face,? and other topics.

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2020-09-18
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#216 ? September 3, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Graeme Wood about the breakdown of social order in the U.S. They discuss the recent eruptions of violence, the loss of trust in the media, the cases of Jacob Blake and Kyle Rittenhouse, how to understand police videos, the risks of vigilantism, the politicization of race, the problem of deep fakes, Trump not actually wanting to be president, the prospect that Trump might attempt to pardon himself, and other topics.

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2020-09-04
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#215 ? August 21, 2020

In this episode the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with David Miliband about his work with the International Rescue Committee. They discuss the crisis of internally displaced peoples and refugees, the problem with open borders, the vetting of refugees, the limits of nation-building and diplomacy, the realities of globalization, global risks, defending human rights, a ?post-values and post-competence? America, the breakdown of trust in institutions, the prospects of a second Trump term, and other topics.

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2020-08-21
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#214 ? August 13, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Siddhartha Mukherjee about our ongoing failure to adequately respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. They discuss the significance of asymptomatic spread, the lack of Chinese cooperation, the failures of testing, travel restrictions, the missteps of the FDA and the CDC, controversy around masks, the lack of coordination among the states, conspiracy thinking about mortality statistics, the political contamination of public health information, electronic medical records, preparing for the next pandemic, the immunology of Covid-19, the long term consequences of the disease, concerns about a vaccine, the coming prospect of school openings, and other topics.

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2020-08-13
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#213 ? The Worst Epidemic

In this episode the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Gabriel Dance about the global epidemic of child sexual abuse. They discuss how misleading the concept of ?child pornography? is, the failure of governments and tech companies to grapple with the problem, the tradeoff between online privacy and protecting children, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, photo DNA, the roles played by specific tech companies, the ethics of encryption, ?sextortion,? the culture of pedophiles, and other topics.

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2020-08-04
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#212 ? July 29, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Kathryn Paige Harden about public controversy over group differences in traits like intelligence and ongoing research in behavioral genetics. They discuss Harden?s criticism of the Making Sense episode featuring Charles Murray, the mingling of scientific thinking with politics and social activism, cancel culture, environmental and genetic contributions to individual and group differences, intellectual honesty, and other topics.

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2020-07-30
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#211 ? The Nature of Human Nature

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

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2020-07-17
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#210 ? The Logic of Doomsday

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with William J. Perry and Lisa Perry about the ever-present threat of nuclear war. They discuss the history of nuclear weapons, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the present threat of accidental nuclear war, nuclear terrorism, unilateral disarmament, the psychology of deterrence, tactical nuclear weapons, cybersecurity, details of command and control, nuclear proliferation, the steps we could take toward safety, strategic missile defense, nuclear winter, and other topics.

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2020-07-09
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#209 ? A Good Life

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

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2020-07-04
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#208 ? Existential Risk

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Toby Ord about preserving the long term future of humanity. They discuss moral biases with respect to distance in space and time, the psychology of effective altruism, feeling good vs doing good, possible blindspots in consequentialism, natural vs human-caused risk, asteroid impacts, nuclear war, pandemics, the potentially cosmic significance of human survival, the difference between bad things and the absence of good things, population ethics, Derek Parfit, the asymmetry between happiness and suffering, climate change, and other topics.

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2020-06-23
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#207 ? Can We Pull Back From The Brink?

In this episode of the podcast, Sam discusses the recent social protests and civil unrest, in light of what we know about racism and police violence in America.

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2020-06-13
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#206 ? May 26, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with David Frum about the shifting political landscape. They discuss the secularization of politics, distrust of the media and other institutions, voter suppression, the 2020 elections, what happens if Trump gets a second term, the role of money in politics, conspiracy theories around Covid-19, the Michael Flynn controversy, the prospect that Trump will refuse to leave office, and other topics.

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2020-05-26
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#205 ? The Failure of Meritocracy

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Daniel Markovits about the problems with meritocracy. They discuss the nature of inequality in the United States, the disappearance of the leisure class, the difference between labor and capital as sources of inequality, the way the education system amplifies inequality, the shrinking middle class, deaths of despair, differing social norms among the elite and the working class, the ethics of taxation, scales of philanthropy, universal basic income, the need for a wealth tax, the relationship between meritocracy and political polarization, the illusion of earned advantages, and other topics.

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2020-05-22
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#204 ? May 18, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Jonathan Haidt about the maintenance of a healthy society. They discuss the problem of orthodoxy, the history of political polarization in the US, the breakdown of public conversation, remaining uncertainty about Covid-19, motivated reasoning, the 2020 election, the future prospects for Gen Z, the effect of social media on the mental health of girls, Jonathan's experience with psychedelics, positive psychology, loss of self, the experience of awe, and other topics.

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2020-05-18
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#203 ? May 13, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Caitlin Flanagan about her cancer recurrence and the response to her recent article in The Atlantic discussing it. They discuss the dynamics of apologies and forgiveness, the #MeToo movement and the allegations against Biden, modern feminism, and other topics.

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2020-05-14
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#202 ? May 11, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Andrew Yang about the Covid-19 pandemic. They discuss the future of the middle class, Andrew?s experience campaigning for President, the need to build new digital infrastructure, universal basic income (UBI), concerns about the Biden?s age and #MeToo allegation, hostility between the United States and China, problems with the global supply chain, concerns about social cohesion, market failures, and other topics.

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2020-05-11
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#201 ? May 1, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Yuval Noah Harari about the Covid-19 pandemic and its future implications. They discuss the failures of global leadership, the widespread distrust of institutions, the benefits of nationalism and its current unraveling in the U.S., politics as a way of reconciling competing desires, the consequences of misinformation, the enduring respect for science, the future of surveillance, the changing role of religion, and other topics.

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2020-05-01
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#200 ? Creatures of Habit

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

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2020-04-29
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#199 ? April 23, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris and Caitlin Flanagan discuss the ethics of abortion, the fact that universities with immense endowments are laying off staff during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Woody Allen autobiography, the moral hypocrisy of Hollywood, the lessons of "Tiger King," and other topics.

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2020-04-24
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#198 ? April 16, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris and Paul Bloom discuss the false tradeoff between the economy and public health, putting a price on human life, framing effects for moral questions, how Covid-19 may change human behavior, "turn-key totalitarianism," the future of education, the long term psychological effects of the pandemic, the 2020 election, the prospect that Sanders supporters won't vote for Biden, and what Sam means when he says "the self is an illusion," and other topics.

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2020-04-17
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#197 ? April 12, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Caitlin Flanagan. They discuss the different sorts of experiences people are having during the Covid-19 pandemic, what it has exposed about our education system, the 2020 election and the many problems with Joe Biden, why the press has been slow to cover Biden?s #MeToo allegation, the perceived double standards in the press and within feminism, and other topics.

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2020-04-13
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#196 ? The Science of Happiness

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

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2020-04-10
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#195 ? Social Cohesion is Everything

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with General Stanley McChrystal and Chris Fussell about the Covid-19 pandemic. They discuss the nature of the ongoing crisis, the threat of a breakdown in social order, the problem of misinformation, the prospects of a nationwide lockdown, the trade off between personal freedom and safety, the threat of tyranny, the concerns about the global supply chain, concerns about the price of oil, safeguarding the 2020 Presidential election, and other topics.

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2020-04-06
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#194 ? The New Future of Work

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Matt Mullenweg about the evolution of distributed work. They discuss the benefits of working from home, the new norms of knowledge work, relevant tools and security concerns, the challenges for managers, the importance of written communication, the necessity of innovating in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, delivery networks as critical infrastructure, economic recovery, and other topics.

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2020-03-25
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#193 ? Meditation in an Emergency

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks about social contagion and about the importance of understanding one's own mind in an emergency.

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2020-03-20
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#192 ? March 17, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris and Paul Bloom speak about the psychology of adapting to the coronavirus pandemic, the disastrous analogy between coronavirus and flu, the political siloing of information, true and false concerns over "panic," pressuring China to close down their live animal markets, the economic implications and possible silver linings of the pandemic, what our response suggests about our ability to deal with climate change, Biden vs Sanders, the ethics of praising one's enemies, and other topics.

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2020-03-17
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#191 ? Early Thoughts on a Pandemic

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Amesh Adalja about the spreading coronavirus pandemic. They discuss the contagiousness of the virus and the severity of the resultant illness, the mortality rate and risk factors, vectors of transmission, how long coronavirus can live on surfaces, the importance of social distancing, possible anti-viral treatments, the timeline for a vaccine, the importance of pandemic preparedness, and other topics.

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2020-03-11
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#190 ? How Should We Respond to Coronavirus?

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Nicholas Christakis about the coronavirus pandemic. They discuss the likely effects on society, proactive vs reactive school closures, community transmission, false comparisons between coronavirus and flu, the imperative of social distancing, the timeline of the pandemic, Trump?s political messaging, the widespread distrust of expertise, the importance of "flattening the curve" of the epidemic, the possible failure of our healthcare system, gradations of personal response to this threat, and other topics.

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2020-03-10
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#189 ? Wealth & Happiness

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Scott Galloway about the connection between wealth and happiness. They discuss the problem of wealth inequality, the transfer of wealth from the young to the old, class warfare in Democratic politics, deficit spending, means testing Social Security, Bloomberg?s campaign and ?stop and frisk,? breaking up big tech, privacy absolutism, meditation, mortality, atheism, and other topics.

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2020-03-02
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#188 ? February 28, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris and Paul Bloom speak about the virtues of President Trump, the campaign prospects of Bloomberg and Sanders, the asymmetrical norms of the Democratic and Republican parties, the marginal role that parents play in the development of their children, wealth inequality and the breakdown of the nuclear family, whether Paul should take LSD, the deplatforming of Peter Singer, and other topics.

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2020-02-28
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#187 ? February 20, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris and Paul Bloom speak about the epidemic of child sexual abuse, the ethics of loyalty, eugenics, existential risk, the Bloomberg and Sanders campaigns, and other topics.

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2020-02-21
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#186 ? The Bomb

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Fred Kaplan about the ever-present threat of nuclear war. They discuss the history of nuclear deterrence, U.S. first-strike policy, preventive war, limited nuclear war, tactical vs. strategic weapons, Trump?s beliefs about nuclear weapons, the details of command and control, and other topics.

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2020-02-18
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#185 ? February 7, 2020

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris and Paul Bloom speak about "Trump Derangement Syndrome," inequality, the relationship between wealth and happiness, the downside of fame, psychological impediments to noticing progress, and other topics.

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2020-02-07
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#184 ? The Conversational Nature of Reality

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with poet David Whyte about the importance of work and relationships, the balance between training and expressing of one's talents, the lessons of mortality, and other topics.

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2020-02-03
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#183 ? January 28, 2020

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris and Paul Bloom discuss topics in the news including the tragic death of Kobe Bryant. They also explore the paradoxes of moral responsibility.

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2020-01-28
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#182 ? Unlearning Race

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast Sam Harris speaks with Thomas Chatterton Williams about the reality and politics of race. They discuss his book ?Self Portrait in Black and White,? race as a social and biological construct, the prospects of achieving a ?post-racial? society, interracial marriage, and other topics.

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2020-01-23
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#181 ? The Illusory Self

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Richard Lang about how to experience the world beyond the illusion of the self.

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2020-01-13
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#180 ? Sex & Power

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Meghan Daum about her book ?The Problem with Everything.? They discuss contemporary feminism, violence against women, campus sexual assault, moral panics, new norms of conversation, the 2020 Presidential campaign, and other topics. 

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2019-12-30
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#179 ? The Unquiet Mind

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Judson Brewer about addiction, craving, and mindfulness. They discuss the nature of reward-based learning, the role of subjective bias in addiction, the neuroscience of craving, the neural correlates of the sense of self, real-time neuroimaging, effort and effortlessness in meditation, smoking cessation through mindfulness, the difference between dopamine-driven reward and happiness, how to make meditation a habit, working with anxiety, and other topics.

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2019-12-17
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#178 ? The Reality Illusion

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast Sam and Annaka Harris speak with Donald Hoffman about his book ?The Case Against Reality.? They discuss how evolution has failed to select for true perceptions of the world, his ?interface theory? of perception, the primacy of math and logic, how space and time cannot be fundamental, the threat of epistemological skepticism, causality as a useful fiction, the hard problem of consciousness, agency, free will, panpsychism, a mathematics of conscious agents, philosophical idealism, death, psychedelics, the relationship between consciousness and mathematics, and many other topics.

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2019-12-11
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#177 ? Psychedelic Science

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Roland Griffiths about the current state of research on psychedelics. They discuss the historical prohibition against their use; the clinical and scientific promise of psilocybin, mescaline, LSD, DMT, MDMA, and other compounds; the risks associated with these drugs; the role of ?set and setting?; the differences between psychedelics and drugs of abuse; MDMA and neurotoxicity; experiences of unity, sacredness, love, and truth; the long-term consequences of psychedelic experiences; synthetic vs natural drugs; the prospects of devising new psychedelics; microdosing; research on psilocybin and long-term meditators; the experience of encountering other apparent beings; psilocybin treatment of addiction; and other topics. In his Afterword, Sam discusses his experience on a large dose of psilocybin?his first psychedelic experience in 25 years.

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2019-12-02
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#176 ? Knowledge & Redemption

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Lynn Novick about her four-part documentary "College Behind Bars." The film follows the progress of students in the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) as they pursue their undergraduate degrees. Sam and Lynn are joined by Jule Hall, a BPI graduate who served a 22-year sentence and is now working for the Ford Foundation.

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2019-11-23
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