021 – What if Sam Harris and Scott Adams Had a Baby?


On this episode I use a recent episode of Sam Harris’s podcast (#87 – “Triggered: A Conversation With Scott Adams”) as a springboard for exploring a variety of topics related to critical thinking and persuasive communication.

When it comes to critical thinking and rational persuasion, half of my brain thinks like Sam Harris, and the other half thinks like Scott Adams. Each gets something right that the other doesn’t. I’m interested in identifying what each of them gets right, as a step toward creating something that is better than each of them separately, by integrating their strengths and avoiding their weaknesses.

In other words … I want the super-powered love child of Sam Harris and Scott Adams.


In This Episode:

  • (0:00 – 6:00) Introductory remarks
  • (6:00 – 10:15) Introduction to Sam Harris and Scott Adams
  • (10:15 – 15:30) Summary of Sam’s interview with Scott on the Waking Up with Sam Harris podcast
  • (15:50 –  16:30) Why this is relevant to the Argument Ninja Academy
  • (17:00 – 20:15) What I like about Sam: Intellectual virtues
  • (20:15 – 24:50) What I like about Sam: Critical thinking values and democracy
  • (24:50 – 30:10) What I like about Scott: The performative dimension of persuasion
  • (30:10 – 31:55) What I like about Scott: The language of “filters”
  • (31:55 – 39:00) Why both must be part of the foundational skill set for critical thinking and rational persuasion
  • (39:10 – 45:30)  The rhetorical triangle — ethos, pathos and logos
  • (45:30 – 51:18) Speech act theory and communication strategy
  • (51:18 – 58:00) Sam vs Scott: analyzing the conversation
  • (58:00 – 60:00) Speech act theory and Scott’s defense of Trump
  • (60:00 – 67:00) The accusation of “sophistry”: Sam Harris and the Very Bad Wizards (David Pizarro and Tamler Sommers) on Scott Adams
  • (67:00 – 77:40) The philosopher-sophist spectrum, and the persuasion challenge that Scott Adams faces
  • (77:40 – 90:00) Diving deeper: Scott Adams, the illusion of reality, and how persuasion masters can reshape the Matrix

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