I blogged my own confusion about exactly what Sam Harris education was way back here, over a year ago. Reality is he’s an English major and a very clever writer. A bit like Pirsig “skating on thin ice” when writing about Zen having previously read only one book on the subject, later pursuing studies to cover his arse. A lot more parallels between Harris and Pirsig, and Hofstadter, and more.
[After his Stanford English batchelor] in 1986 – when he experimented with psychedelics, dropped-out after two years and travelled in India. (Sounds familiar?) He later gained a Batchelor’s in Philosophy in 2000 and a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience in 2009.
Interesting that recently there’s a bit of a twitter storm about how little he did to achieve his “bogus” cognitive neuroscience PhD:
Sam Harris didn’t freaking do his own experiments for that bogus PhD he uses to promote himself as a neuroscientist! pic.twitter.com/jeVld2lPDS
— Mohamed Ghilan (@MohamedGhilan) August 8, 2016
However thin his formal qualifications really are in philosophy and/or science he certainly hadn’t served his time before his elevation to the peerage as one of the four horsemen of science and rationality challenging the irrationality of religion. A young upstart spouting New Atheism from a very limited perspective.
But fair play to Sam, he’s doing his (real) education in public in front of us (a bit like I am, but I’ve been doing it since blogging was invented). Take for example his public conversation with Maajid Nawaz on the value of Islam – where I concluded he seemed “chastened” by the experience. Take for example his recent kiss and make-up conversation with time-served neurophilosopher Dan Dennett. Take for example (hat tip to Lee Beaumont) his recent podcast conversation with Eric Weinstein on Judaism and religion generally.
Sam is Waking Up to the fact that education is more than qualifications and wisdom is more than knowledge and knowledge is more than science. I say again, fair-play to him for showing us how to listen in public. His philosophy education may yet stand him in good stead. Would that Dawkins and Krauss (and Cox and …. ) followed his (and my) lead.