Sam Harris Bio and Positions

Sam Harris Profile Picture

B.A. in Philosophy, Stanford University (2000)

Ph.D. in Neuroscience, University of California, Los Angeles (2009)


Harris, S. (2005). The end of faith: Religion, terror, and the future of reason. WW Norton & Company. (1931 citations)

Harris, S. (2011). The moral landscape: How science can determine human values. Simon and Schuster. (734 citations)

Harris, S. (2008). Letter to a Christian nation. Vintage. (624 citations)

Notable Papers

Functional neuroimaging of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty. Annals of Neurology

The Neural Correlates of Religious and Nonreligious Belief PLoS ONE

The son of an actor and famed TV producer Susan Harris, Dr. Harris grew up mostly with his mother after his parents divorced when he was 2 years old. Dropping out of college in between his Sophomore and Junior years of college at Stanford University, as an English major, Sam Harris spent years traveling, researching, and studying meditation under some of the pre-eminent buddhist teachers primarily in India. 

Upon returning to the United States, he spent years writing, reading and attending Philosophy conferences mostly in the Philosophy of Mind. 

At the age of 30, he convinced himself to return to Stanford, this time as a Philosophy major. After completing his degree (Philosophy, emphasis on Eastern religions) at Stanford, he was accepted into the PhD program at UCLA to study Neuroscience. Two years into his degree, and very influenced by the attacks of September 11th, he wrote his first book The End of Faith (2004).

Though it was rejected by almost two dozen publishers, the book ultimately found a home with the publisher W. W. Norton & Company. Immediately a best seller, the book won the prestigious Pen Award for nonfiction and catapulted Harris’ career into the mainstream. 

During and after the book tour, Harris, emerged as an extremely talented speaker and debater primarily on the subject of religion. Coinciding with the rise of Youtube, many of his debates and lectures were free to watch and share contributing to rise in the public sphere. Since then he’s authored many books (most of which best sellers) covering topics ranging from A.I. to consciousness and the self. His podcast, Waking Up, has been perpetually ranked on iTunes’ top 100 podcasts since it’s launch. 

Popular Quotes 

  • “In fact, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a “non-astrologer” or a “non-alchemist.” We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.”
  • “Consider it: every person you have ever met, every person will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?”
  • “We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That’s it. Conversation and violence. And faith is a conversation stopper.”
  • “If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?”

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