Things I Don’t Believe In (I’m looking at you Sam Harris)

I like to think that my lack of belief in gods, ghosts, the supernatural etc. does not mean that I have a specific world view. I like to think that I’m free to take knowledge from any place I find it. That said I also like to think that I don’t have to agree with every famous atheist alive in order to have a valid world view as an atheist.

To that point, I have disagreed with Sam Harris on a number of issues, and today we find one more. Mr Harris wrote that we should be profiling airline travellers to ensure our safety in his post In Defense of Profiling.

He makes quite a few good points about the ineffectual nature of the TSA and by reason Homeland Security. I’ve said as much too. The trouble is that Mr Harris goes on to state that travellers should be profiled and that we should be wasting money trying to stop what will not be stopped without far more effort than is being made. The next terrorist plot will not be with an airplane and no matter what method is chosen we will not be ready for it. More pointedly, our resources will be tied up with worrying about how to deal with airline based terrorism rather than in creating an infrastructure and citizenry that is ready to respond to any threat without regard to its method. Can any reader name more than one terrorism plot foiled by either the TSA or Homeland Security? Let me know in the comments.

Update: I just thought, profiling would not have caught the shoe bomber or the Oklahoma City bombers. In fact there are innumerable situations that the TSA and Homeland Security have failed miserably to address. Sure the TSA is limited in scope, but their budget doesn’t seem that way.

I have said just in the past week that we should shut down the TSA and Homeland security. Give 15% of that budget to the FBI and let them do their jobs – they’re good at doing that. Now take the other 85% and give it to NASA.

Stop terrorizing and traumatizing little kids and old folk and lets get our happy little asses to Mars… like yesterday!

Sam, please stop telling people to keep wasting money and resources on silly crap that is grossly ineffectual, even on its best possible day. Stop acting like the FBI doesn’t know what they are doing. Stop acting like ‘doing something’ has to mean doing something that wasn’t already being done. You cannot predict where lightning will strike, but you can do some cost effective things to prevent or minimize the damage done when it does strike. By the by, you don’t put lighting protection only in airports.

Besides, Sam, if we have no free will isn’t it likely that we aren’t going to be able to prevent terrorism?

  1. Brilliant reasoning, myatheistlife.

    I was sadden that Harris believes we have no freewill, because I wondered if he is correct then I did not see the point of reading his work since my lack of freewill bounds me to believe what I believe even if false.

    Thank you for your awe-inspiring reasoning, myatheistlife.


    • His idea of no free will was slightly different than you seem to have taken it, but he is wrong just the same. Wasting time worrying so much about airplanes is a waste of money and resources, it erodes our freedoms, and ill prepares us for the next attack. It is unwise from conception to daily use. It is not strategic, it is not anything that can be called wise. Unfortunately, Mr Harris believes it should continue. Sad. Hopefully not many will listen to him.

  2. If we have no free will, why are we even discussing this? Because we can’t stop ourselves, I suppose.

    I’m not sure I like your suggestion that 85% of the budget should go to NASA. I believe in the value of science and space exploration, but when global warming and world poverty are pressing issues, it seems unwise giving *all* of the money to nonessential projects that create huge quantities of greenhouse gas.

    Sam Harris does have some extreme views though, doesn’t he? I like him, actually, but I wish he could show some nuance sometimes.

    • Well, I suppose that there is room for discussion on where it is redistributed as you do mention important issues. I just think that continued scientific exploration of an inspirational scope is important for all causes, and the greater nature of ourselves. Space exploration is not non-essential. Neil deGrasse Tyson makes a great case for why it is important and why it inspired greater deeds in us in all our efforts, or many of them anyway. My post “Belief Does Not Matter” I linked to a video of him. We need space exploration MUCH more than tight airport security to stop terrorists that won’t be there… they will be where ever we are not looking for them. That’s their job.

      Mind you, if we cut back on some of the military spending, or perhaps used the military to help feed some of those people by fixing the issues that cause poverty and starvation which can be fixed by human intervention. There are lots of ways to spend our tax dollars. I’m just hopeful that we keep funding space exploration and science to invigorate innovation and inspiration in the world.

  3. They can stop the terrorism if they wanted to the technology is there.Just wasting money as usual.History seems to repeat itself.It would seem we would completely figure it out by now.

    • I disagree with the thought that terrorism can be stopped. Its nature is to find openings in security and exploit them. I personally could tell you many ways to bring any large city to its knees with less resource and effort than was used on 9/11. It’s really not that difficult if you think about it.

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