I Enjoyed Sam Harris’ Q&A

I’ve always liked Sam Harris.  He recently asked his twitter followers for questions and I’d like to repost some of his answers.  I deeply agree with them.

If the self is an illusion, who or what is witnessing that illusion?


What’s your opinion of panpsychism? A technically valid theory or scientifically impossible?

Possibly true, but probably unfalsifiable—and, therefore, probably vacuous in scientific terms. Is the sun conscious? There’s no reason to think so, but would I expect the sun to behave differently if its processes of nuclear fusion were associated with subjectivity? No. So, even if panpsychism were true, I would expect it to be undetectable.

Do you think that truth has value in and of itself or is its value derived from its affect on well-being?

This is actually a very subtle question—and my answer is pretty easy to misconstrue. But I think that (ultimately, when we get very clear about what we mean by these terms) truth is a slave to well-being. Which is to say that anything you can say about the value of knowing the truth (e.g. it’s so interesting, so useful, so beautiful, etc.) translates into a claim about the well-being of conscious creatures.

Does your stance regarding free will affect your actions from day to day, or are its implications strictly societal?

My view about the illusoriness of free will makes it easy to let go of anger/hatred. I occasionally get angry, of course. There are people who behave in ways that I find despicable. But I can (ultimately) see their behavior as impersonal—even when it is directed at me personally. That doesn’t mean that I suddenly become trusting of everyone. I know that certain people can be counted upon to misbehave. But so can grizzly bears. We can fear grizzly bears and take steps to protect ourselves from them, but it makes no sense to hate them.

How do you define the secular spirituality?

Self-transcendence without divisive bullshit.

If, as you say, science is to be the main arbiter of morality, do you still see a useful role for philosophy in this area?

I wouldn’t separate them. Our truth claims should be guided by reason and evidence. There is no clear line between (good) philosophy and science.

Anyways, you can read his entire Q&A here.

I’m More Of A Beta-Male

Though I hate to admit it, I actually have a confession to make.  I, Jason Summers, am not exactly an alpha-male.  In fact, you might refer to me as a beta-male.  Who are we beta-males?

We’re not exactly known for ostentatious displays of valor.  My knowledge of all that’s “macho” consists of an image of Randy Savage snapping into a Slim Jim exclaiming, “Oooohhhhhhh yyyeeaaaahhhhhh.”  If war were to break out, I’m more like Archimedes.  I just sort of look around, try to stay out of the way, and work on geometric proofs in the sand.

I rarely take my shirt off, and all my sleeves remain intact.  I have no tattoos, I’ve never smoked a cigarette, and I can hardly even think of pointing a gun at another human being.  However, I’m pretty epic with fireworks!  We can tie G.I. Joes to 12 oz rockets and launch them across the neighborhood!   Take that alpha-males!  Jerks!

I’m the antithesis of macho.  Late one night I was out walking and I saw my cat, Mama-Boo get run over.  She didn’t die and her two back legs were broken.  She slowly crawled off of the road into my driveway under my car and moaned for a while.  I got out my .22 rifle and aimed it at her head, knowing she was suffering and was surely going to die, but even in those circumstances, I wasn’t able to shoot a mere animal. She stopped breathing soon after the accident and I buried her the following morning.

I found myself building a little memorial out by the creek, reflecting on the memories we shared. She was an old stray who had been abused by someone who lived nearby.  She was terrified of people and always ran away.  But she eventually got to know me because I oftentimes sit on the front porch at 3 AM and stare up at the stars.  I actually got to a point where I could pet her.  I took care of her for several years.

I also have a relationship with a raccoon from the creek.  I leave food out on the porch late at night and it comes to eat.  It’s figured out that I’m the source of these wonderful delights and has gotten a little too comfortable around me.  I’ll be sitting in my chair on the porch and it’ll come right up to the side and put its paws on the chair’s arm.  It then lifts itself just six inches away from me and looks me in the face, almost like it’s asking, “Do you have anymore of that stuff?”

Yep.  I’m a beta-male.  While Fonzie may snap his fingers and the women come running, about all I can do is help you with your math homework.  Even still, if you text that you need me, I’ll come running, though I’ll likely be just as intimidated by the spider in the shower as you are, especially if it’s a big one that jumps.  Do big spiders jump?  I think they do.  On second thought… *shivers*  “You can do this Jason, you can do this!”  After thirty minutes of intense planning and deliberation, I’ll end up trapping it in a glass and release it outside in the backyard.

Thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a woman in the imperative tone of voice.  The only time I snap my fingers is when I’m cooking in the kitchen.  Do my little dancing jig as I make stir-fry!  Shake the pan, “Whoooo”, place the pan down on the burner, spin in place, then snap the fingers.  You hungry?

I do actually lift weights and exercise, but I’m not known for my huge muscles.  I can just barely bench-press my own body weight, yet, even still, I am aware of all the current political events, the state of the economy, and other social issues.   That counts for something.

I’ve never grilled a big steak dinner as I don’t like to eat red meat.  It’s not good for the old heart and I kinda feel bad killing other sentient life.  I tend to stick with a vegetarian diet.

I do have a weakness for nice cars and Harley motorcycles.  No lie.  I couldn’t work on them to save my life, but I’ll gladly go riding cross country with you on a road-trip!  Hop on the back babe, I’ll take you anywhere you like!  How could anyone not like motorcycles?


These are just a few of the beta-male qualities.   Actually, I think I’m the only beta-male.

How To Be An Alpha Male

HuffPost blogger Emma Johnson is telling us men that women really want an aggressive, manly man, able to make decisions, and strong in this world.

“When you are an independent woman with lots of responsibilities, many men assume that we want to carry out that strong role all the time. But I need to feel like a woman, and times I enjoy that most are when I am with a man,” Johnson wrote. “If I am being honest with myself, being a woman means — to a degree — being passive. And that requires a man who is — to a degree — the alpha.”

“We feel so afraid to acknowledge that we have this inherent need to be with manly men. We fear that we’re going to give up some of our power,” she said. “I like to be with agressive men, alpha men who are strong in this world and strong with me one on one, but that doesn’t mean I want to give up my right to vote or that I choose to earn less than a man in the workplace. “

So guys, listen up!  You need some role models or the ladies will pass you by every time.  Here’s your first lesson.  If you’re going to be an alpha male, you need to learn how to hold your own, protect your woman, and protect your children — like a boss!

Could you ever picture that man unemployed, depending on a woman to support him?  Are you kidding me?  The same goes with you, alpha-male in the making!  Hoodlums giving you trouble?  You have to whip sense into them, call up your buddies at the construction site and find them all jobs.  You’re not only a provider, you also help other young men become providers as well.  Something breaks, you’re there to fix it.  Grass getting a little high?  Never!  The lawn’s always mowed, flower-beds well kept.  Car needs tuned?  You’re all over it.  Taking notes?

Next you need lessons in loyalty.  When your friend’s in trouble, do you cry in your little corner, “The world’s so hard!  Why are people so mean!”  No!  You own the situation, like the Fonz.

When trouble strikes, you’re there.  You’re there for your friends, there for your children, there for your woman.  And see what he did there?  Snap the fingers, the woman comes.  That’s aggressive, that’s an alpha male.  Strong women worry they’ll be giving up their power when dating wuss-balls.  But what about the Fonz?  He’s glowing with power and authority.

Now you need to learn confidence.  Even if you can barely speak English, own yourself and never back down.  You’ve had so many children, you’re everyone’s father.  Remember that.

And when the forces of evil attack from the shadows, who’s going to protect the weak?  The family?  Who fights for freedom and liberty?  Obviously it’s got to be you, alpha-male, honor-bound protector of the innocent!

It’s 4 AM

What a great song.  Kaskade – 4 AM.

Sleepless gliding
Over the city lights
Watch us flying
Over the streets tonight

And I say
There’s a way, there’s a way I know
There’s a way, there’s a way I know
There’s a way, there’s a way
I know that someday we will surely find it
There’s a way, there’s a way I know
There’s a way, there’s a way I know
Someday, there’s a way
Someday, there’s a way I know it

Sunday morning
Watching the city sleep
Dreams are shining
Finally they’re within reach

We Need Fusion Power

What problem do you hope scientists will have solved by the end of this century?  Dr. Stephen Hawking is telling us we need to perfect fusion power.  I agree with him.

Brian Cox:
What problem do you hope scientists will have solved by the end of this century?

Stephen Hawking:
Nuclear fusion.  It would provide an inexhaustible supply of energy without pollution or global warming.

Brian Cox:
I share that view.  The provision of clean energy is of overwhelming importance.  What frustrates me is the fact that we know how to do it as physicists, we know that it works, and it seems to me to be an engineering solution that is within our grasp, if we want to do it.  I don’t understand why we don’t seem to want it enough, at the moment.