Sam Harris Didn’t Understand Ford/Kavanaugh Either

 

Sam Harris has been a high priest of leftist culture for a while now. But I think he’s solidified his position with his recent “analysis” of the Ford/Kavanaugh debacle. He essentially he broke it down like this:

1. Kavanaugh lied about stuff under oath. Harris’ evidence for this was that he knows what “boof” meant in the ’80s. Unfortunately “boof” has at least four meanings and one of them is the one Kavanaugh used. In other words, Harris’ claim is unconvincing.

2. Because Kavanaugh wasn’t being tried as a criminal, he shouldn’t have been presumed innocent until proven guilty. The presumption of innocence goes beyond due process and isn’t unique to the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt. The civil standard of preponderance of evidence still relies upon innocent until proven guilty. It’s just that the level of proof required is not beyond a reasonable doubt. The presumption of innocence is a rational baseline for almost any question. It’s virtually identical to the Null Hypothesis utilized by skeptics. Basically, unless there is evidence positive belief of any kind isn’t required.

3. Bayesian probability analysis of who lied is enough evidence to say that Kavanaugh is probably guilty which meets the preponderance of evidence standard. Whether or not she or he lied isn’t the issue so Bayesian probability about who did or didn’t lie isn’t relevant. She doesn’t need to be lying to be mistaken, and likewise, neither does he. It’s entirely possible that he got blackout drunk and did this awful thing. If he has no recollection of the event due to alcohol affecting his memory, then he isn’t lying, but he would be mistaken concerning his innocence.

She also could have misidentified him. That can and does happen. That’s why the statistic about false rape allegations isn’t relevant either. Women don’t lie about being raped or assaulted very often. But the statistic is used as evidence that women like Dr. Ford are accurate in identifying their assailants. That statistic, however, isn’t about identifying assailants correctly. As is the case with most crimes, misidentification of the perpetrator is not uncommon. That’s why the only thing that is relevant is actual evidence. Without evidence, there can be nothing to ponder, pre or otherwise.

So the problem here is that Harris doesn’t understand what counts as evidence in this kind of situation. This isn’t a scientific question or even a philosophical one. It’s more like a historical question. When people deny the Holocaust, we don’t engage in Bayesian probability analysis of whether or not it happened. We go to historical sources, documentation, and the massive amount of survivors. If none of these things existed we wouldn’t have any reason to believe the Holocaust took place. But there is an inordinate amount of evidence that it did.

Even if Harris was right about the Bayesian probability, he isn’t taking into account all the relevant information. Dr. Ford’s testimony about the second door is never mentioned by anyone on the left. An investigation into the door showed that her testimony about it made no sense and in fact could’ve been a ruse unrelated to Kavanaugh.

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  1. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    As soon as Harris dismissed the presumption of innocence I stopped watching the video. Doesn’t matter that the hearing wasn’t a trial in a court of law. The presumption of innocence is a basic foundational mode for civil behavior throughout society and more immediate community. It’s the glue that keeps us civil. Do away with that and falsehoods, lies, rumor, innuendo, and personal vendettas rule the day and neighbors are set against neighbors (like Nazi Germany, Maoist China, or the Soviet Union).

    Keep working on your reason-based utopia, Sam. Best of luck.

    • #1
  2. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    As soon as Harris dismissed the presumption of innocence I stopped watching the video. Doesn’t matter that the hearing wasn’t a trial in a court of law. The presumption of innocence is a basic foundational mode for civil behavior throughout society and more immediate community. It’s the glue that keeps us civil. Do away with that and falsehoods, lies, rumor, innuendo, and person vendettas rule the day and neighbors are set against neighbors (like Nazi Germany, Maoist China, or the Soviet Union).

    Keep working on your reason-based utopia, Sam. Best of luck.

    Yeah, Sam has his work cut out for him. He still thinks he’s the smartest kid in the room. Not so.

    • #2
  3. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    There are two men in my life who have been falsely accused. The accusations of one were eventually rejected because there were no corroborating evidence or witnesses (and the accusations were ridiculous), but there was damage done to the reputation of the accused.

    The other recanted her accusations immediately, and thank God officially. But I don’t doubt that if asked about it 20-30 years from now, her memory will be different, and her role will be as victim.

    • #3
  4. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Who is this Sam Harris person, and why would I care what he thinks?

    • #4
  5. A.C. Gleason Coolidge
    A.C. Gleason
    @aarong3eason

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    As soon as Harris dismissed the presumption of innocence I stopped watching the video. Doesn’t matter that the hearing wasn’t a trial in a court of law. The presumption of innocence is a basic foundational mode for civil behavior throughout society and more immediate community. It’s the glue that keeps us civil. Do away with that and falsehoods, lies, rumor, innuendo, and person vendettas rule the day and neighbors are set against neighbors (like Nazi Germany, Maoist China, or the Soviet Union).

    Keep working on your reason-based utopia, Sam. Best of luck.

    Amen.

    • #5
  6. A.C. Gleason Coolidge
    A.C. Gleason
    @aarong3eason

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Who is this Sam Harris person, and why would I care what he thinks?

    You shouldn’t. He thinks he’s a high priest of reason. But all he offers is posturing. 

    • #6
  7. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Who is this Sam Harris person, and why would I care what he thinks?

    One of the last intellectually honest leftist. He took a lot of crap for saying terrorism is a problem in the Muslim community. I enjoy his podcast and his discussion/slash debate with Jordan Peterson was pretty interesting although it did get a little tedious. Think he’s all wet about Kavenaugh.

    • #7
  8. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    A.C. Gleason (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Who is this Sam Harris person, and why would I care what he thinks?

    You shouldn’t. He thinks he’s a high priest of reason. But all he offers is posturing.

    But how many others do care? And does that mean that I should care? And if so what should I do?

    • #8
  9. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    I still think the most likely occurrence was a carefully crafted fabrication. It’s just too perfectly constructed, she was too rehearsed with a perfectly crafted presentation. Do a Bayesian probability on all the elements of a perfectly crafted lie for this situation at this time.

    • #9
  10. Ralphie Member
    Ralphie
    @Ralphie

    OkieSailor (View Comment):
    But how many others do care? And does that mean that I should care? And if so what should I do?

    I think it wise to be aware of the background and opinions of intellectuals that try to influence the direction of public discourse and reason. Although you will probably not debate him, you will probably come across someone who is influenced by him and uses Harris’ conclusions as expert opinion in any discussion. 

    I think it possible that many theories on what happened 35 years ago are plausible, and I find Ed Wehlan’s very convincing myself. What all of those theories have in common are that they do not produce any evidence. As someone said, everyone is credible, especially when they believe something, and that is why we demand evidence to support that.

    • #10
  11. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Annefy (View Comment):

    There are two men in my life who have been falsely accused. The accusations of one were eventually rejected because there were no corroborating evidence or witnesses (and the accusations were ridiculous), but there was damage done to the reputation of the accused.

    The other recanted her accusations immediately, and thank God officially. But I don’t doubt that if asked about it 20-30 years from now, her memory will be different, and her role will be as victim.

    I’ve had to testify in a number of rape trials in the past. In the most recent one the defense was able to find hundreds of texts from the “victim” from before and after the alleged rape where she was clearly not averse to sex with the accused. She tried to ruin the guys life and send him to prison for 20 years out of spite because he ended their clearly mutual relationship. Not the first dubious rape claim I’ve seen in my career either.

    Real rapists deserve the worst punishment I can imagine, I’ve also had to deal with some severely traumatized victims. But women who falsely accuse men of rape deserve severe punishment as well.

    • #11
  12. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    OkieSailor (View Comment):

    A.C. Gleason (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Who is this Sam Harris person, and why would I care what he thinks?

    You shouldn’t. He thinks he’s a high priest of reason. But all he offers is posturing.

    But how many others do care? And does that mean that I should care? And if so what should I do?

    Know all the meanings of the word “boof.” Make a list of them. Read it every morning alongside your morning Psalm. When people talk about Kavanaugh, quote from the list.

    • #12
  13. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    OkieSailor (View Comment):

    A.C. Gleason (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Who is this Sam Harris person, and why would I care what he thinks?

    You shouldn’t. He thinks he’s a high priest of reason. But all he offers is posturing.

    But how many others do care? And does that mean that I should care? And if so what should I do?

    Know all the meanings of the word “boof.” Make a list of them. Read it every morning alongside your morning Psalm. When people talk about Kavanaugh, quote from the list.

    More seriously, I don’t know what any of us should do besides the sort of thing we try to do on Ricochet.

    E.g., make an effort to know the difference between good and bad reasoning, check our own reasoning from time to time, get to know at least some of the other ideas and make sure our reasons to disagree seem ok and maybe change our minds if they don’t, tell someone else the truth you know from time to time, etc., etc.

    • #13
  14. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    thelonious (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Who is this Sam Harris person, and why would I care what he thinks?

    One of the last intellectually honest leftist. He took a lot of crap for saying terrorism is a problem in the Muslim community. I enjoy his podcast and his discussion/slash debate with Jordan Peterson was pretty interesting although it did get a little tedious. Think he’s all wet about Kavenaugh.

    Recent four part debate, Sam Harris vs Jordan Peterson much better. 

    • #14
  15. Ralphie Member
    Ralphie
    @Ralphie

    Kozak (View Comment):
    She tried to ruin the guys life

    I’ve seen that myself, not with rape, but with divorce. Parental alienation seems to be a growing tactic. Anecdotally, I know of only women that have tried to sever the father’s rights. I am sure it happens vice versa, but just am not personally aware of those cases. 

    • #15
  16. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    It seems even the “reasonable leftists” which is an oxymoron in my opinion, or let’s just use Dennis Prager’s definition of liberals, but they really aren’t for allowing the people to actually be sovereign. They are still elites and the elites like having a bevy of unelected judges standing by to “correct” any “bad law” that was voted on by the people.

    This is elitism, plain and simple.

    • #16
  17. DrewInWisconsin Coolidge
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    A.C. Gleason (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Who is this Sam Harris person, and why would I care what he thinks?

    You shouldn’t. He thinks he’s a high priest of reason. But all he offers is posturing.

    However, I did like the way he ripped into Ezra Klein not too long ago.

    • #17
  18. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Ralphie (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):
    She tried to ruin the guys life

    I’ve seen that myself, not with rape, but with divorce. Parental alienation seems to be a growing tactic. Anecdotally, I know of only women that have tried to sever the father’s rights. I am sure it happens vice versa, but just am not personally aware of those cases.

    Yeah we see that too in the ER. The Sunday evening “change of custody, I want my child examined for possible sexual abuse”. Usually by a mom against the dad, but not always.

    • #18
  19. PHCheese Member
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I Walton (View Comment):

    I still think the most likely occurrence was a carefully crafted fabrication. It’s just too perfectly constructed, she was too rehearsed with a perfectly crafted presentation. Do a Bayesian probability on all the elements of a perfectly crafted lie for this situation at this time.

    Indeed.

    • #19
  20. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    A.C. Gleason: The presumption of innocence goes beyond due process and isn’t unique to the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt.

    I like to use the phrase “the spirit and intent of XYZ” when discussing a legal principle which does does not technically apply, but forms a sound basis from which to view an issue.

    We also see this with the “censorship” of conservatives on social media. While technically not censorship (these are private companies), they are “violating” the spirit and intent of the First Amendment, which prefers open debate on issues over the silencing of certain viewpoints.

    • #20
  21. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    Annefy (View Comment):

    thelonious (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Who is this Sam Harris person, and why would I care what he thinks?

    One of the last intellectually honest leftist. He took a lot of crap for saying terrorism is a problem in the Muslim community. I enjoy his podcast and his discussion/slash debate with Jordan Peterson was pretty interesting although it did get a little tedious. Think he’s all wet about Kavenaugh.

    Recent four part debate, Sam Harris vs Jordan Peterson much better.

    Actually that’s what I was referencing. I know Peterson did his podcast which turned out to be a disaster.

    • #21
  22. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    A.C. Gleason: Because Kavanaugh wasn’t being tried as a criminal he shouldn’t have been presumed innocent until proven guilty. The presumption of innocence goes beyond due process and isn’t unique to the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt. The civil standard of preponderance of evidence still relies upon innocent until proven guilty. Its just that the level of proof required is not beyond a reasonable doubt. The presumption of innocence is a rational baseline for almost any question. It’s virtually identical to the Null Hypothesis utilized by skeptics. Basically unless there is evidence positive belief of any kind isn’t required.

    Disagree. 

    Lots of people voted against Hillary Clinton because they believed she is guilty of crimes for which she has not been convicted. All those people violated her so-called “right” to be presumed innocent.

    The reality is that nowhere in the US Constitution is there a right to be presumed innocent. It’s one of those “emanations from the penumbra” of what’s actually written in the Constitution, namely the 4th and 5th amendments.

    There is no duty for individual Americans to presume people innocent. If there was, comedians like Norm Macdonald would be in jail for all their OJ Simpson jokes.

    The Senate confirmation process is a political process, not a legal process. A Senator can vote against a nominee for any reason. If they want to vote against a nominee because they don’t like the colour of that nominee’s tie, that’s their prerogative.

    Caveat: There are laws against libel and slander, but the onus is on the prosecution to prove that the accused libeler/slanderer knew for a fact that their words were malicious lies. Due process applies to libel and slander just as much as it applies to any other crime.

    • #22
  23. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    A.C. Gleason: Because Kavanaugh wasn’t being tried as a criminal he shouldn’t have been presumed innocent until proven guilty. The presumption of innocence goes beyond due process and isn’t unique to the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt. The civil standard of preponderance of evidence still relies upon innocent until proven guilty. Its just that the level of proof required is not beyond a reasonable doubt. The presumption of innocence is a rational baseline for almost any question. It’s virtually identical to the Null Hypothesis utilized by skeptics. Basically unless there is evidence positive belief of any kind isn’t required.

    Disagree.

    Lots of people voted against Hillary Clinton because they believed she is guilty of crimes for which she has not been convicted. All those people violated her so-called “right” to be presumed innocent.

    The reality is that nowhere in the US Constitution is there a right to be presumed innocent. It’s one of those “emanations from the penumbra” of what’s actually written in the Constitution, namely the 4th and 5th amendments.

    There is no duty for individual Americans to presume people innocent. If there was, comedians like Norm Macdonald would be in jail for all their OJ Simpson jokes.

    The Senate confirmation process is a political process, not a legal process. A Senator can vote against a nominee for any reason. If they want to vote against a nominee because they don’t like the colour of that nominee’s tie, that’s their prerogative.

    Caveat: There are laws against libel and slander, but the onus is on the prosecution to prove that the accused libeler/slanderer knew for a fact that their words were malicious lies. Due process applies to libel and slander just as much as it applies to any other crime.

    Disagree with your disagreement.

    There is a social duty not to assume your fellow human is guilty of wrongdoing for which there is no evidence. Otherwise society ceases to function. 

    There was no evidence that Judge Kavanaugh had done anything like what he was accused of, other than the word of people who had demonstrated very poor memories. Yes, people are legally entitled to believe unsubstantiated statements. But, if people make a habit of that the world becomes very difficult to navigate for everybody.

    People are entitled to believe accusations backed up by evidence, even if the evidence isn’t enough to qualify under criminal standards. We do this all the time, but most of those times we do so on the basis of some evidence. There was plenty of evidence on which perfectly rational people could conclude that there was a decent probability that OJ Simpson and Hillary Clinton did bad things. 

    Presuming guilt based on evidence is reasonable. Presuming guilt on the basis of no evidence is harmful.

    • #23
  24. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    tell someone else the truth you know from time to time, etc., etc.

    You mean I should tell them my truth?

    • #24
  25. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Ralphie (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):
    She tried to ruin the guys life

    I’ve seen that myself, not with rape, but with divorce. Parental alienation seems to be a growing tactic. Anecdotally, I know of only women that have tried to sever the father’s rights. I am sure it happens vice versa, but just am not personally aware of those cases.

    I have a nephew who managed to get full custody of his kids, but it was an egregious case.

    • #25
  26. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    tell someone else the truth you know from time to time, etc., etc.

    You mean I should tell them my truth?

    The truth you know is your truth. It’s also mine. If I don’t know it, I’m ignorant and I guess it sucks to be me.

    The thing you call “your truth” that ain’t true for me ain’t true for you either.

    • #26
  27. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Ralphie (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):
    She tried to ruin the guys life

    I’ve seen that myself, not with rape, but with divorce. Parental alienation seems to be a growing tactic. Anecdotally, I know of only women that have tried to sever the father’s rights. I am sure it happens vice versa, but just am not personally aware of those cases.

    Yeah we see that too in the ER. The Sunday evening “change of custody, I want my child examined for possible sexual abuse”. Usually by a mom against the dad, but not always.

    I really think that elite thinkers should plumb the astonishing depths of knowledge present in police roll calls, firehouse suppers and emergency room break rooms. Human beings do all sorts of really, really, really stupid things. Like “brains-fell-out” stupid. Or “all moral sense abandoned” stupid. Sometimes alcohol is involved but not always.

    I’ve done death notifications (not many—usually people are wonderful) in which, within moments, the death of a child has been weaponized and brought to bear on the same old subject: Who Was The Villain In The Marriage? 

    Jaw-dropping stupid.

     

    • #27
  28. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    By the way, next time someone tells me I’m complicit in white supremacy (or whatever) I’m going to say, very sincerely, “that’s your truth. That’s not my truth.” 

    • #28
  29. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    I may even use my breathy upspeak to say it. 

    • #29
  30. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    By the way, next time someone tells me I’m complicit in white supremacy (or whatever) I’m going to say, very sincerely, “that’s your truth. That’s not my truth.”

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    I may even use my breathy upspeak to say it.

    I would disagree about there being a Truth Buffet where you get to pick the ones you like, but you should keep the breathy upspeak. 

    • #30

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