Sam Harris - Human Intuition is Pretty Reliable | Joe Rogan

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Sam Harris

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Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The Moral Landscape. He is the host of the podcast “Making Sense" available on Spotify.

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Which is, this is a controversial thing to say, and I've gotten in trouble, or one of my podcast guests, Gavin De Becker, the security guru, got in trouble on my podcast, talking about the primacy of intuition here. Our intuitions are actually really good for detecting something that makes us uncomfortable about another person, right? And this becomes politically incorrect really fast, right? Because it's like, if you see a guy on an elevator who makes you uncomfortable, Gavin's advice and I think the real sane advice is just don't get on. But there are many people who get on just because they want to prove they're not racist, right? Or they're not, it's like, and I actually know someone who was in a situation like that, and it didn't work out well. And so, I mean, intuition is bad for so many things. We have terrible intuitions for statistics and probability theory. And it's like, we're, we're, we're, we, you know, whole careers and Nobel prizes have been won on, you know, people like, you know, Danny Kahneman have, have shown us how, it's not only that our intuitions are bad for, for these judgments, but they're reliably bad and we can understand, there's a, there's a structure to how bad they are. But for judging people who are dangerous, you know, who give us the, who make, who, who make the hair stand up on the back of our neck for reasons we can't understand, you know, for where the eye contact was wrong or the, or the, or the just the way they were, you know, I mean, just like a, what's called a witness check, you know, like someone comes up to you and engages you. And then they look to, they just kind of look to check for witnesses, right? Like people don't, aren't aware that that's even a thing, right? But when like that body language is, is very salient to us. And there are, there are hundreds of things like that, that, that we immediately feel that prompt, you know, an intuitive response. And these are intuitions that are, you know, from a self-defense point of view are worth listening to. Because like the worst case scenario is you wind up being a little rude there. Yeah. And I, you know, I can't talk, but people are, you know, people are very dogmatically being kind of trained to ignore those kinds of intuitions. What do you think those intuitions are? Like what do you think intuitions are? Like when you meet someone, you go, whoa, this person feels dangerous. Like what is that? What's happening? Well, there's a lot, you know, gaze detection is a big one. I mean, we, you know, what people do with their eyes is a, is a, is a major variable in just how we feel that, you know, the, the relationship is going. But it's and there's just, there are micro expressions that we notice in people that we're not aware of noticing, you know, like, it's just, there's, this is, this is not well understood and we're bad judges of whether someone is telling the truth. I mean, this, this has been fairly well studied. I mean, there are people who, you know, even people who work for the FBI are not, you know, much better than chance in detecting whether somebody is lying. But there's just, we get so much information by, you know, body language and being in somebody's presence, and we get it so fast that it's, again, and they, they're, whether we understand it or not, there are evolutionary reasons why this is so. I mean, if we've evolved for anything as social primates, we have evolved to detect stuff that just is a precursor to violent intent in, in others. Right. Do you think it's just gaze or do you think you can sense the energy of someone? There's certain movements that people make when they're thinking about hitting you. Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. There's certain, like, there's like a twitchiness to them, like a pulled back, like almost like a spring or a bow. There's like a feeling you get around people that are looking to hit people. Yeah. Well, there's, so again, all of that's still vision, but there's, you know, I mean, who knows we're detecting pheromones, we could be detecting people's level of, of stress. I mean, just how tuned up they are. Yeah. But, and this goes beyond, this is beyond just physical violence. This is just, you know, detecting psychopaths who are, you know, who are manipulative. I mean, just detecting, I mean, there are, there are ways to spot people lying. I mean, just, you know, there, there are tells like, you know, too much information, you know, like the people who are giving you superfluous, superfluous information as a kind of overcorrection, because they're anticipating that you're going to doubt their story. And so they're filling in like blanks that you don't even need filled in. Right. And it's, and there are sort of patterns to, to sort of to that. But, and again, we, we pick up on a lot of this stuff without consciously being aware of what's going on. We just know that that's like not a person I want to spend any more time with. Right. But, you know, there may be more of a literature on this than I'm, than I know about, but a lot of this is not well understood. And I mean, people like Paul Ekman have done a lot of stuff on micro, on, you know, micro expressions. I mean, that goes back probably 30 years at this point. And there are people who are outliers who are great at detecting micro expressions where they really, they really just understand what's going on. But it's not, and AI eventually will be, if it is not there already, will be much better than we are doing this. I'm so scared of that. I'm so scared of them getting that wrong. Yeah. Micro expressions are funny because they remind me of microaggressions, which is one of the, you know, one of the weirder social justice warrior things, like things that used to be just slights where someone was just like slightly rooted. Not even slights. Just like, where do you come from? Right. That's my progression. Speaking of an accent. Like, where are you from? Where are your parents from? Oh, Gary. Yeah.