“Lying” By Sam Harris – A Quickie Review

Finally picked up Sam Harris’ “Kindle Single” (a short book/essay approx. 100 pages) “Lying” (not an affiliate link) and finished off the last few pages. I found the book to be unimpressive both in its main premise “Thou Shalt Not Lie”, and the reasoning for it.

A short quote: “Every lie is a direct assault upon the autonomy of those we lie to. And by lying to one person, we potentially spread falsehoods to many others – even entire societies.” Translated: “You should always tell the truth, not doing so might lead to dire consequences.”

Sort of like a butterfly effect of lies, almost; I tell a perfectly harmless white fib with the purest of intentions in Sandy Hook, CT, and a week later a textile sweatshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh comes crashing down killing hundreds.

The book is filled with silly examples and assertions that a bright 5th-grader could easily refute. Having watched a lot of Sam Harris on Youtube I had expected more. Considerably more.

Even assuming that people somehow have a reasonable expectation, or even a right, that I tell the the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth at any given time, this statement is nothing but hyperbolic dramaqueenery©. Denying me the right to lie whenever I’m in the mood is a direct assault on my autonomy (and also the 1st Amendment). Talk about a pompous bag of gas.Two thumbs down.

Hypothetical:
A German SS-Obersturmführer leads his entourage of armed soldiers, Schmeissers held tightly against their chests, from house to house in an Amsterdam neighborhood in November 1942. It’s dark, cold, and a steady drizzle of almost-freezing rain makes the cobblestone slippery under foot. The officer halts at a door and raps it with Aryan authority. A middle-aged woman eventually appears. “Entschuldigung for das inconvenience mein Frau, but hast du any illegal Juden hiding in your loft?” the officer demands.The woman, clearly afraid, stutters, but finally manages to reply in the negative: “No sir, no Jews here. No Jews at all.” The Obersturmführer bows stiffly at the waist as only SS officers do, tips his hat to the terrified woman, utters a polite “danke schön”, adjusts his eye patch, twirls around sharply on his heel and continues on to the next house in search for untermenschen to send off to the work camps in the East. Arbeit macht frei, usw., doncha know!

anne_frank

Lying, runaway Jewess. Picture credit: Bergen-Belsen work camp archives, from a production of “Glückliche Tage” (“Happy Days”) performed by the camp drama troupe.

What a fucking cunt that woman was, lying to the officer like that, knowing full well she had an entire family of Jew fugitives hiding upstairs. You just can’t trust anybody these days.

P.S. I find it much more interesting to read a review of a book, however short and incomplete and biased, thereby perhaps gaining some new insight, rather than just a statement that so-and-so has read such-and-such.

EDITED TO ADD: It appears that Anne Frank was posthumously baptized by the Mormons. Presumably this selfless act by the Latter Day Saints has led God to forgive her for lying and being a Jew, retrieved her from hell and put her in the Heavenly Witness Protection Program where she is now playing dodge ball with Jesus in an undisclosed Heavenly location (Heaven is a big place).

I Am A Cunt And So Can You

I have an Internet acquaintance that I’ve been chatting with on and off for the past few years via various forums, email, Facebook and the like. I’ve never met him in the physical realm, but he seems like a standup guy and I hold him in high regard. He recently mentioned to me that Sam Harris had written in his blog a book review, recommending it too atheists in need of arguments when debating the existence of a god with religious people. (For those of you who don’t know, Sam Harris is an author/philosopher/neuroscientist/the fourth horseman of the “neo-atheist” movement.)

I knew from previous exchanges with my friend, himself a student of philosophy (we’ve discussed various topics such as politics, philosophy, religion, atheism, guns, bodybuilding, illegal performance enhancing drugs and the widespread practice of male circumcision in America) how much he likes Sam Harris and enjoys his books. I was therefore a bit surprised when he told me that reading Harris’ blog and the book review in question specifically, had turned him against Harris, and stated quite emphatically that he didn’t know who would be the bigger cunt; the guy who wrote it, the guy who reviewed and recommended it, or those who read it.

I haven’t read the book in question nor Harris’ review of it, but any book that provides the atheist with valid ammunition in debates with theocrats and “people of faith” of any creed; creationists, intelligent designers, hardline Bible thumpers, Muslim jihadists, and even “moderate” non-literalist, cherry picking Christians and Reform Jews, is, in my opinion, a good book. The guy who wrote it, a good guy. The person who reviews and recommends it, also good. As is the person who reads it for the specific purpose of arming him/herself with arguments to debunk religious poppycock. If that makes me a cunt, then so be it. I’ll take it as a compliment.

Let me finish off by saying that the Bible is bullshit, the Koran is a lie, and the Baghavad Gita did not fall from the sky (credit Corporate Avenger), and the sooner we can rid society of the scourge of belief in ancient fairy tales, mythology and omnipotent, judgmental sky zombies, the better.