Sam Harris on Joe Biden

After mostly spending most of his time objecting to the electability of Bernie Sanders, Sam Harris finally weighed in on his opinion of Joe Biden in a recent podcast with Paul Bloom. Perhaps emblematic of the opinion Harris and Paul Bloom were about to share, Harris first asked Paul if he was board certified as a clinical psychologist. To which Paul answered “No, and I have no experience whatsoever with that side of psychology.”

Then they really got into it:

“his difficulty could be purely a motor problem and not have cognitive implications. I mean he clearly has memory issues that I would expect have any given hour I would have those issues and I certainly expect to have those when I’m 80 years old..” ultimately landing on the notion that “he’s clearly lost a step..” and Paul retorted “I think he’s not bad for a guy in his mid 70s (Biden is 77)…it’s when you contrast him with someone younger that you do see his limitations.”

“Biden is just a gaffe machine. I just don’t see how he gets out of any series of paragraphs that can’t be spun to his lasting disadvantage. In the debate last night (final debate of the Democratic primary), he encouraged people to go to his website: joebiden.cum.”

If it helps, ultimately the duo would both agree that he’s not that awful of a choice. He can be aggressive, he’s not terrible in debates, and he’s decidedly “less adventurous than Obama.” Furthermore, Sam opined that if there’s one thing one can be confident in, it’s that “one can expect that he’ll staff up real experts.” Particularly in the wake of the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak, this would be a welcome site to have a president that would be willing to defer to experts in the field (whatever field).

However, there was one more point to discuss and that was Sam Harris’ view on Joe Biden’s remark about the famous female vice president comment.

On the “Female Vice President” Guarantee

In the same episode, Sam Harris would be asked by Paul Bloom how he felt about Biden’s guarantee that he would have a female Vice President. Sam responded:

“Oh I that was terrible. Perhaps it signals that he’s already secured it with one of the people we know…I just think that saying that, any criteria aside, that the person is guaranteed to be a woman  is just the wrong message to send.: Imagine if he had said ‘I guarantee you that my vice president is going to be black.’ I think that would strike people as a particularly odd thing to say. Now it would be great if the Vice President is a nominee but to telegraph it that way just seems as though he has his priorities backwards. I don’t know, that’s just the way it struck me.”

There’s not much for us (ScholarFactCheck) to add on this point but, admitting to our own biases, we do agree. Merely appointing people to a position because of their race, gender or ethnicity seems to be a backwards step in the name of progress. Elizabeth Warren might not be Indian, but she is a brilliant mind. Is it not possible for her to appointed on the later grounds?

As always, should we become aware that Dr. Harris has changed his opinion or should new evidence be submitted that we have either misconstrued his opinion or failed to include important statements from him, we will 1) make the correction, 2) note the correction here, 3) issue a mea culpa that attempts to explain and improve on how we missed this. 


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