Stop Distorting Sam’s Views, Gosh Darn It!
Here’s the best piece about the Hitch’s, how shall we call it, ‘scholarly work’ that I’ve read thus far.
Unsurprisingly, Sam Harris, the Hitch’s fellow horseman, takes umbrage:
“I do not object to hard-hitting debate, but I do object to bad journalism and the malicious distortion of our views.[..] Personally, I will have nothing to do with Salon in the future–and I recommend that atheists and secularists who care about rational discourse boycott the website.”
Sam means he’d like for every atheist to boycott Salon because they espouse views that are opposed to his and because its writers are polemically capable of giving him ButtHurt and BadFeel. How’s that for “rational”.
While there’s been a lot of distortion of Sam’s views in recent memory, Sam seems to keep resorting to the claim that his views are being distorted whenever the bovine stink of said views are expressly pointed out.
Needless to say, the indignation over his views being distorted is also quite rich given he’s well known for distorting the views of others:
Let’s recall that, Of Scott Atran, Sam scathingly said:
“I have long struggled to understand how smart, well-educated liberals can fail to perceive the unique dangers of Islam. In The End of Faith, I argued that such people don’t know what it’s like to really believe in God or Paradise—and hence imagine that no one else actually does. The symptoms of this blindness can be quite shocking. For instance, I once ran into the anthropologist Scott Atran after he had delivered one of his preening and delusional lectures on the origins of jihadist terrorism. According to Atran, people who decapitate journalists, filmmakers, and aid workers to cries of “Alahu akbar!” or blow themselves up in crowds of innocents are led to misbehave this way not because of their deeply held beliefs about jihad and martyrdom but because of their experience of male bonding in soccer clubs and barbershops.”
Of course Sam wants us to think it absurd that Scott actually believes ‘soccer clubs’, ‘barber shops’ and the like are actual places of terrorist indoctrination. That would in fact be absurd. Only it isn’t what Scott actually meant. Not that anyone other than Sam needed the clarification, but Scott went on and gave it anyway, consquently showing us how Sam’s brand of silly rhetoric, as an approach to rational discourse, is only best suited to the playground:
“Sam Harris posted a recent blog about my views on Jihadis that is unbecoming of serious intellectual debate, if not ugly. He claims that I told him following a “preening and delusional lecture” that “no one [connected with suicide bombing] believes in paradise.” What I actually said to him (as I have to many others) was exactly what every leader of a jihadi group I interviewed told me, namely, that anyone seeking to become a martyr in order to obtain virgins in paradise would be rejected outright. I also said (and have written several articles and a book laying out the evidence) that although ideology is important, the best predictor (in the sense of a regression analysis) of willingness to commit an act of jihadi violence is if one belongs to an action-oriented social network, such as a neighborhood help group or even a sports team”
Of course, examples of Sam Harris “distorting” other people’s views abound. In fact most, if not all (especially The End Of Faith and Letters To A Christian Nation) his books are distortions of other people’s views. The rebuttal he lays out, if it could even be called as such, against the First Cause argument for God’s existence, even, is a distortion of the views of everyone through out history (Aquinas, Leibniz, William Craig, etc.) who’s used the argument.
Sam has mastered distorting people’s views while claiming they’re distorting his. But that is to be expected — in fact it’d be silly to expect more — from a man who makes stunningly stupid statements such as these:
“I can be even more inflammatory than that. If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion. I think more people are dying as a result of our religious myths than as a result of any other ideology.”
Well, now, that just permeates all levels of stupid. Man’s intrinsic self-worth was a purely (mono)theistic “myth”, Sammy boy. You’d rather have zero religion than zero rape? Seriously?!
What’s more hopeless than a world that turns away from religion is a world that turns away from religion on the basis of Sam Harris’s arguments.