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March 26, 2018 | by  | in Arts Podcasts | [ssba]

Waking Up with Sam Harris


I was first introduced to Sam Harris via his now somewhat infamous confrontation with Ben Affleck on Real Time with Bill Maher, over the ability to freely criticize the doctrine of Islam and religions generally.  Surprised and intrigued by Sam’s arguments, I followed his internet footprint (including “The Four Horsemen” debate) and landed at his podcast, Waking Up with Sam Harris.

Although listed under the “Science & Medicine” section of Apple’s podcast app, Waking Up discusses myriad topics. This variety is thanks to the versatility and competency of the host. Sam Harris is the author of seven popular books – The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Lying, Waking Up, and Islam and the Future of Tolerance. His podcast, like his books, concern areas of both philosophy (morality, religion, ethics, and meditation) and science (mainly neuroscience, psychology, biology, and artificial intelligence), but he also talks regularly with mathematicians and physicists.

Years of public speaking and debate make Sam a very effective interviewer and host. Years of meditation has made him a better listener. He prepares questions and follows up, doesn’t talk in circles (the trap of the amateur podcast/radio host), and is willing to move on if the conversation falls into a rut. The shows are typically a one-on-one discussion, however, he also releases audio from live podcasts with several guests, and notifies subscribers when he talks on other podcasts. Interviews are stand-alone but themes tend to develop from show to show, generally but not exclusively based around Sam’s areas of interests mentioned prior.

If not already, the podcast should be on every student and academics’ radar. Topics are discussed in depth but not exhausted so as to make reading a guest’s book unnecessary. If you do listen to podcasts as a substitute to reading, I recommend giving this podcast your undivided attention – listen while commuting rather than working out. If captivated by the show like myself, I further recommend the Waking Up book – “A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion” (if you can’t find time for meditation, find time for LSD and trips to Nepal).

Finally, if you are sick of hearing about US postage and other American bollocks, then you will be pleased to know that Sam does not read ads at the start of his shows. Any housekeeping is kept to a minimum.


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