Passion Is A Poor Substitute for Reason

Sam Harris published an AMAZING podcast that you simply MUST check out! This podcast is our response and reaction to that podcast.

Below is a truncated version of the original podcast from Sam Harris, entitled Can We Pull Back from the Brink?, upon which the current Uncphew podcast is based.

Show Notes


Just like you, we’ve been lost at sea for the past month or so, as, in the aftermath of the horrific George Floyd incident, social unrest like we’ve never experienced has swept the nation. As we’ve been tossed about, rising and falling with the news from any particular day in this insane news cycle, we kept looking for a beacon in the night. And finally, it arrived. It did so in the form of a podcast from someone we would not have thought would have been the source of the particular perspective he shared. The source was Sam Harris, who is one of the most well-known thought leaders in America today.

Our mild surprise results from the fact that Harris is a liberal, and the perspective he shares in this particular podcast – Can We Pull Back From the Brink – departs fairly radically from the “narrative of the day” espoused and parroted by the vast majority of liberal America at this particular point in time.

The quotes you see interspersed throughout our show notes below are all taken verbatim from this particular podcast (you can read a transcription of that podcast here).

If you are at all concerned about what’s happening in America right now, we strongly suggest you listen to the totality of Harris’ podcast. It is the most thoughtful, deliberate, logical, reasonable and rational examination of the challenges confronting all of us at this critical juncture in the history of this great country.

Sam Harris’ Incredible Podcast: Can We Pull Back from the Brink?

  • Harris spends an insane amount of time preparing his audience for what he is going to say next
  • People are afraid to say anything
  • Phew agrees with the bulk of what the protestors are protesting, but even HE is afraid to say anything
  • Even Harris, with his huge audience, is terrified of making a misstep

Overwhelming Logic, Fact & Reason

  • His facts are OVERWHELMING – so powerful
  • If the entire country would be forced to listen to that podcast, what a difference it would make
  • The facts don’t line up with what’s going on in the world right now
  • The media is absolutely overblowing all this, and it’s a lightning rod to active the people they are trying to activate
“Blacks are 13 percent of the population, but they commit at least 50 percent of the murders and other violent crimes.
If you have 13 percent of the population responsible for 50 percent of the murders—and in some cities committing 2/3rds of all violent crime—what percent of police attention should it attract? I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure it’s not just 13 percent. Given that the overwhelming majority of their victims are black, I’m pretty sure that most black people wouldn’t set the dial at 13 percent either.
And here we arrive at the core of the problem. The story of crime in America is overwhelmingly the story of black-on-black crime. It is also, in part, a story of black-on-white crime. For more than a generation, crime in America really hasn’t been a story of much white-on-black crime. [Some listeners mistook my meaning here. I’m not denying that most violent crime is intraracial. So, it’s true that most white homicide victims are killed by white offenders. Per capita, however, the white crime rate is much lower than the black crime rate. And there is more black-on-white crime than white-on-black crime.—SH]
The murder rate has come down steadily since the early 1990’s, with only minor upticks. But, nationwide, blacks are still 6 times more likely to get murdered than whites, and in some cities their risk is double that. And around 95 percent of the murders are committed by members of the African American community. [While reported in 2015, these data were more than a decade old. Looking at more recent data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, the number appears to be closer to 90 percent.—SH]
The weekend these protests and riots were kicking off nationwide—when our entire country seemed to be tearing itself apart over a perceived epidemic of racist police violence against the black community, 92 people were shot, and 27 killed, in Chicago alone—one city. This is almost entirely a story of black men killing members of their own community. And this is far more representative of the kind of violence that the black community needs to worry about. And, ironically, it’s clear that one remedy for this violence is, or would be, effective policing.” Sam Harris
“This is certainly one reason why it is wise to have the racial composition of a police force mirror that of the community it’s policing. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that this will reduce lethal violence from the side of the police. In fact, the evidence we have suggests that black and Hispanic cops are more likely to shoot black and Hispanic suspects than white cops are. But it would surely change the perception of the community that racism is a likely explanation for police behavior, which itself might reduce conflict.” Sam Harris
“But Fryer also found that black suspects are around 25 percent less likely to be shot than white suspects are. And in the most egregious situations, where officers were not first attacked, but nevertheless fired their weapons at a suspect, they were more likely to do this when the suspect was white.” Sam Harris

Phew Had a PHYSICAL Reaction

  • Just LISTENING to his facts, Phew’s BODY didn’t want to believe the stats Harris shared
  • I really don’t want to believe this is true
  • Makes things way too complicated
  • People will misrepresent things he said for their specific political gains

So Much More Complicated Than The Masses Are Making It

  • How much time did he spend explaining what he WAS NOT SAYING, trying to prevent people from overreacting
  • A topic: there is a problem with policing in America
  • A second topic, which is a subset of the first, is this: are blacks treated differently/worse by the police?
  • Whether or not that’s true, Harris is saying the conversation is a lot more complicated that we’re making it

The Video Does Not Prove Racial Bias

  • The complications of what the police have to deal with
  • None of the “facts” surrounding George Floyd’s murder PROVE racial bias
  • Would any of this even happened if there was no video?
  • This could happen to me? If you are an idiot, yes

Somehow, This is Not Obvious to People

  • Do blacks resist more than anyone else?
  • Stats show police rough up black more, but they kill whites more
  • If you think the police are going to fuck with you, what is the best response?
  • If you go at a cop, the cop has to assume potential risk of his gun, and he has no choice but to act accordingly
  • Somehow, this is not obvious to many people

The Ferguson Effect

  • Anyone crazy enough to fight a cop, the cop HAS to assume they are crazy enough to go for his gun and use it
  • The United States is the most armed country on the planet; it’s not realistic for cops not to be armed
  • Cops have no idea what they are walking into
  • The “Ferguson Effect:” thousands of police officers will quit
  • Cops are not going to show up for things
  • People who claim victimhood hurts the cause of liberals

“He studied the aftermath of the investigations into police misconduct that followed the killings Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, and Lequan McDonald, and found that, for reasons that seem pretty easy to intuit, proactive police contact with civilians decreases drastically, sometimes by as much 100 percent, once these investigations get started. This is now called “The Ferguson Effect.” The police still answer 911 calls, but they don’t investigate suspicious activity in the same way. They don’t want to wind up on YouTube. And when they alter their behavior like this, homicides go up. Fryer estimates that the effects of these few investigations translated into 1000 extra homicides, and almost 40,000 more felonies, over the next 24 months in the US. And, of course, most of the victims of those crimes were black. One shudders to imagine the size of the Ferguson effect we’re about to see nationwide… I’m sure the morale among cops has never been lower. I think it’s almost guaranteed that cops by the thousands will be leaving the force. And it will be much more difficult to recruit good people.” Sam Harris

“If you’re attacking a cop, trying to get his gun, that is a life and death struggle that almost by definition for the cop, and it most cases justifies the use of lethal force. And honestly, it seems that no one within a thousand miles of Black Lives Matter is willing to make these distinctions. An attitude of anti-racist moral outrage is not the best lens through which to interpret evidence of police misconduct.” Sam Harris

“This is something that everyone really needs to understand. And it’s something that Black Lives Matter should be teaching explicitly: If you put your hands on a cop—if you start wrestling with a cop, or grabbing him because he’s arresting your friend, or pushing him, or striking him, or using your hands in way that can possibly be interpreted as your reaching for a gun—you are likely to get shot in the United States, whatever the color of your skin.” Sam Harris

“There are now calls to defund and even to abolish the police. This may be psychologically understandable when you’ve spent half your day on Twitter watching videos of cops beating peaceful protesters. Those videos are infuriating. And I’ll have a lot more to say about police violence in a minute. But if you think a society without cops is a society you would want to live in, you have lost your mind. Giving a monopoly on violence to the state is just about the best thing we have ever done as a species. It ranks right up there with keeping our shit out of our food. Having a police force that can deter crime, and solve crimes when they occur, and deliver violent criminals to a functioning justice system, is the necessary precondition for almost anything else of value in society.” Sam Harris

The Right Response

  • Even if that is true, what is the right response? To be MORE militant? You know how that ends
  • Trevor Noah made a video: For these people, their half of the social contract has broken down
  • So angry that their passion clouds my reason: this just needs to stop

Liberals Making Liberals Look Nuts

  • Defunding the police plays right into the hands of Trump: it makes liberals look nuts
  • Who does racial division help? Trump, or liberals?
  • Some would rather have peace – no matter who the president is – than Trump
  • Conservatives don’t burn things down and riot

Choosing Safety Over Politics?

  • I need to raise a family – I just want all this crap to stop
  • If Trump gets reelected, things may get worse
  • Trump is trying to appear moderate right now; the liberals want him to “overreact”

What May Follow the Election

  • Trump will shut everything down once he is reelected
  • That also scares a number of conservatives: I don’t want a dictator
  • Trump hates the demonstrators
  • Trump didn’t condemn David Duke
  • The media wants to paint Trump in the worst possible light

We Need Another 9/11

  • America needs another 9/11 right now
  • We’ve become so unmoored from the issues that really matter in the lives of human beings
  • We are so spoiled, especially people 40 and under
  • What we’re living through right now is nothing compared to actually living through a World War II
  • We need to recalibrate what we need to be freaked out about

What is “Privilege?”

  • Ronald Reagan: If aliens showed up tomorrow to attack us, we’d all get together and be on the same page
  • THAT is white privilege: not having to worry about the things you say we shouldn’t worry about
  • Dave Chappelle: One day he was given $25K; he had to take it at 1 AM back to Brooklyn in the 90s
  • Women walk around with $25K between their legs all the time
  • Calling these things “privilege” or “power” may not be the most productive way to deal with this
  • There’s a language of inclusivity that is missing from this conversation

Public’s Perception of Reality Not Even Remotely Accurate

  • Did you use that term instead of that term?
  • Our priorities are fucked up because we don’t have bigger priorities to give us a better perspective
  • Killings in Los Angeles are at a 30 year LOW
  • If the worst of the perceptions of the police were correct, what’s happening right now would make perfect sense
  • But the reality is that the public’s perception is not even remotely accurate

“What’s easy to know is that civil discourse has broken down. It seems to me that we’ve long been in a situation where the craziest voices on both ends of the political spectrum have been amplifying one another and threatening to produce something truly dangerous. And now I think they have. The amount of misinformation in the air—the degree to which even serious people seem to be ruled by false assumptions and non sequiturs—is just astonishing.” Sam Harris

The truth is, we have made considerable progress on the problem of racism in America. This isn’t 1920, and it isn’t 1960. We had a two-term black president. We have black congressmen and women. We have black mayors and black chiefs of police. There are major cities, like Detroit and Atlanta, going on their fifth or sixth consecutive black mayor. Having more and more black people in positions of real power, in what is still a majority white society, is progress on the problem of racism. And the truth is, it might not even solve the problem we’re talking about. When Freddy Gray was killed in Baltimore, virtually everyone who could have been held accountable for his death was black.” Sam Harris

“In a city like Los Angeles, 2019 was a 30-year low for police shootings. Think about that…. Do the people who were protesting in Los Angeles, peacefully and violently, do the people who were ransacking and burning businesses by the hundreds—in many cases, businesses that will not return to their neighborhoods—do the people who caused so much damage to the city, that certain neighborhoods, ironically the neighborhoods that are disproportionately black, will take years, probably decades to recover, do the celebrities who supported them, and even bailed them out of jail—do any of these people know that 2019 was the 30-year low for police shootings in Los Angeles?” Sam Harris

Why is all of this happening now? Police killings of civilians have gone way down. And they are rare events. They are 1/10,000 level events, if measured by arrests. 1/50-60,000 level events if measured by police encounters. And the number of unarmed people who are killed is smaller still. Around 50 last year, again, more were white than black. And not all unarmed victims are innocent. Some get killed in the act of attacking the cops.” Sam Harris

“And the streets are now filled with people who imagine, on the basis of seeing some horrific videos, that there is an epidemic of racist cops murdering African Americans. Look at what this belief is doing to our politics. And these videos will keep coming. And the truth is they could probably be matched 2 for 1 with videos of white people being killed by cops. What percentage of people protesting understand that the disparity runs this way? In light of the belief that the disparity must run the other way, people are now quite happy to risk getting beaten and arrested by cops themselves, and to even loot and burn businesses. And most people and institutions are supporting this civil unrest from the sidelines, because they too imagine that cops are killing black people in extraordinary numbers.” Sam Harris

“Think about the politics of this. Endless imagery of people burning and looting independent businesses that were struggling to survive, and seeing the owners of these businesses beaten by mobs, cannot be good for the cause of social justice. Looting and burning businesses, and assaulting their owners, isn’t social justice, or even social protest. It’s crime. And having imagery of these crimes that highlight black involvement circulate endlessly on Fox News and on social media cannot be good for the black community. But it might yet be good for Trump.” Sam Harris

The Ridiculous Media

  • This is made worse by the media saying and doing ridiculous things
  • Harris called out Van Jones, Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper directly, by name
  • Van Jones: “If this ever happens again”
  • It HAS to happen again, simply because of the sheer numbers involved, along with the fact that people are involved

Fracturing of the American Sense of Community

  • The media and social media have tried to fracture the American sense of community
  • This is ruining communities, people don’t trust each other anymore
  • The police are where the state meets the people
  • This is the fault line where all these tectonic issues work themselves out

The Left Eats Its Own

  • The trouble with the left: the left eats its own
  • Conservatives tend not to do this
  • The conspiracy of silence is terrifying

“About a week into these protests I heard Van Jones on CNN say, “If we see one more video of a cop brutalizing a black man, this country could go over the edge.” He said this, not as indication of how dangerously inflamed people have become. He seemed to be saying it as an ultimatum to the police. With 10 million arrests a year, arrests that have to take place in the most highly armed society in the developed world, I hope you understand how unreasonable that ultimatum is. Sam Harris

“The imprecision here—the bad-faith arguments, the double standards, the goal-post shifting, the idiotic opinion pieces in the New York Times, the defenestrations on social media, the general hysteria that the cult of wokeness has produced—I think this is all extremely harmful to civil society, and to effective liberal politics, and to the welfare of African Americans.” Sam Harris

Conversation and Communication is the Only Way Out of This

  • The New York Times is completely corrupt
  • Really afraid to have a conversation
  • Chappelle just released a new special on Netflix
  • Conversation and communication is the only way we can work this out

“And this is really unhealthy—not just for individuals, but for society. Because, again, all we have between us and the total breakdown of civilization is a series of successful conversations. If we can’t reason with one another, there is no path forward, other than violence. Conversation or violence.” Sam Harris

Free Speech is Dying

  • We have to have the space to be mistaken about things
  • Free speech is dying; there is no space to have a conversation
  • This can’t last; the cancel culture; referenced this in blog post wrote last week re soccer player getting fired for what his wife Tweeted in SerbianWelcome back to the world of domestic violence
  • That should send a chill up your spine, no matter who you are – that is MADNESS

Guilt By Association on Steroids

  • Guilty by association; talking with a white supremacist = being a white supremacist in today’s world
  • We’ve entered a time when our lives are lived out publicly and politically
  • We are constantly impression managing
  • 95% of this has happened within the last 18 months

Hot New Career Option: Social Media Vetter

  • Shane Gillis is now the norm
  • Someone has a job now: audit their social media profiles from birth until now
  • Phew: thinking about deleting his Facebook account; it has become nothing but a potential liability
  • Cancel culture will run out of steam; it may get worse, but it will peak within the next month or two

Let He Who Is Without Sin…

  • Let he who is without sin cast the first stone
  • People inherently believe one of two things: there is, or there is not, a God
  • People who believe in God tend to better understand the fallible nature of human being, and that perfection is impossible
  • People who don’t: your only option is to believe in people, and that perfection is somehow attainable – and it’s reasonable to use perfection as the standard

Another Shooting is Inevitable (Many More, Actually)

  • Another shooting is going to happen – it happened last night
  • There are too many operators
  • Too many opportunities for things to go wrong

The Worst of Atrocities

  • The habit of forgiveness and recognizing one’s own imperfections
  • The worst atrocities in history have happened when people have deluded themselves into thinking there is a “right” way of being, and, if you don’t fit that description, then you need to be disposed of
  • Nationalism, fascism, etc.

Passion Has Never Been a Good Substitute for Reason

  • There is a tendency for people to not want to accept reality
  • Passion has never been a good substitute for reason
  • The road to hell is paved with good intentions
  • We’re at a hysteria pitch at the moment

The Comedy That Is CHAZ

  • Other events throwing gas on the fire: CHAZ
  • They erected a wall, they require ID: they are everything they hate
  • When you sign the checks, everything changes
  • Ignorance is the problem

House of Cards

  • The police/racism issue is nothing but a house of cards
  • If you think all the events that have happened in the last six months happened organically, you’re crazy
  • Look over here! COVID 19!
  • New and better distraction: RACE WAR!

Liberal Leadership Has No Good Option

  • Mayor Jenny Durkin: CHAZ is a summer block party with good vibes; the summer of love
  • So entitled, only a white woman could have said it
  • Do you let CHAZ go forever?
  • Businesses inside CHAZ are dead

Rebellion for the Sake of Rebellion

  • How much harder can we make it for businesses in America right now?
  • Coming next: resurgence of COVID-19
  • Rebellion for the sake of rebellion