Making Sense
Read in 22 min.
Listen in 28 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Sam Harris

Making Sense

Gain a better understanding of topics discussed in contemporary society

There are some subjects that are difficult to discuss in a purely constructive manner, such as the development of artificial intelligence, genetic modification, consciousness, race, religion, and social injustices. They are issues that polarise opinions, cause outrage, and that we often avoid for fear of being judged. This leaves the field wide open to fake news, ignorance, and authoritarianism. In the book Making Sense: Conversations on Consciousness, Morality, and the Future of Humanity, Sam Harris has collected some of the most inspiring interviews conducted with neuroscientists, philosophers, physicists, and other intellectuals, on his podcast, Making Sense, in an attempt to fight ignorance, and delve into some of the most important questions pertaining to the human mind and modern society.

Making Sense
Read in 22 min.
Listen in 28 min.

Discussing sensitive topics in a constructive way helps human beings to grow both as individuals, and as a civilisation

Conversation between people remains one of the most effective - but underestimated - means by which human beings can develop and enrich their intellect, morals, and work towards improving society. In recent years, however, our society has developed a growing trend of indignation, especially among young people, and this is causing increasing difficulty in being able to constructively discuss certain topics, such as race, religion, gender issues, social injustices, development of artificial intelligence, and genetic modification.

The popular saying "damned if you do, damned if you don’t", is extremely fitting in this case, so much so that many people simply prefer to avoid talking about certain topics all together. The damage caused by this attitude, however, is twofold: on the one hand, we tend to accept what we hear from other people, without any critical reflection, and very often, their comments are biased, and steeped in aggression. On the other hand, we wrongly take the stance of not getting involved in discussions with others on topics which are actually important for our development as human beings. Reality is not like a university campus, divided into different study subjects. To fully understand it, and try to find a solution to the problems we face as individuals, we need to use skills from a variety of disciplines. The management of the Covid-19 pandemic is an example of how politics, science, philosophy, religion, and economics have had to interact and work together to seek a common solution that can be embraced by all. 

According to Daniel Kahneman, even small talk and gossip can be useful in teaching people to observe their surrounding environment with a more critical eye. The important thing, however, is to improve the quality of this chatter and avoid negative gossip, thereby striving for more useful and inspiring conversations. As a result, much of the criticism often levelled at social media, where conversations of questionable quality dominate, would also see a sharp decline. 


The key ideas of "Making Sense"

Discussing sensitive topics in a constructive way helps human beings to grow both as individuals, and as a civilisation
One of the most controversial topics discussed today is the conscience, because it is something private and subjective, and the only conscience we have direct experience with our own
Artificial intelligence is progressing rapidly, and needs to be managed ethically
The human mind is much more flexible than previously thought, highlighting the importance of external inputs
The development of technology can positively or negatively affect the brain’s ability to reason
Understanding the inner workings of the human brain can help people to act with greater awareness
One of the questions that intellectuals increasingly find themselves discussing is what the future holds for humanity
Another much debated topic is the possibility of genetically modifying humans in a much more radical way than the random changes caused by evolution
Racism, the potential end of democracy, and fake news, are some of the problems that our society must tackle as soon as possible
Take-home message
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