No matter how you look at it, life doesn’t always make sense. There are a lot of circumstances, happenstances, and coincidences that our human minds, no matter how intelligent we might be, can’t comprehend.
As such, we often find ourselves being pulled into the conundrum of searching for solutions to questions that cannot be answered.
Fortunately, some people aim to shed light on proverbial questions lingering about moral philosophy, the human mind, artificial intelligence, free will and rationality, neuroscience, and more importantly, a deeper understanding of how we can change our ways of life.
One of those individuals is Sam Harris and it’s through his podcast, Making Sense that he talks about these rather mind-boggling topics.
If you want to tune in and listen to his argument and the thoughts of his guests, we compiled a list of the best Making Sense with Sam Harris podcast episodes.
Who is Sam Harris?
Samuel Benjamin Harris, famously known as Sam Harris is an American neuroscientist, philosopher, author, and host of the Making Sense podcast.
He rose to prominence because of his unorthodox statements regarding a person’s free will, man’s devotion to religion, the dangers of artificial intelligence, and more.
Since 2013, he has continued to delight his massive audience with bi-monthly episodes for the podcast, Making Sense with Sam Harris.
Aside from creating content for his podcast, Sam Harris launched the meditation course app called, “Waking Up with Sam Harris.”
Best Episodes of the Making Sense with Sam Harris Podcast
Boasting an average of 1 million downloads per episode, Making Sense with Sam Harris podcast indeed has a massive following.
However, it should be noted that the episodes available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts are only previews. To unlock an episode, you can visit the official website and subscribe.
If you want to listen more without needing to browse the whole catalog of the Making Sense podcast, here are some of the best episodes to get you started.
Episode 91 – The Biology of Good and Evil
Does the physiological aspect of the brain affect an individual’s personality? Does it influence an inclination towards moral goodness or badness? In this episode, Sam Harris speaks aims to debunk these questions with guest, Robert Sapolsky.
Robert Sapolsky is a professor of neurology and biology at Stanford University. He is also the author of the book, “Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst.”
Episode 44 – Being Good and Doing Good
Doing good and being good seems to be an inherent way of living. However, according to William MacAskill, it can be done even better.
In this episode, Sam Harris is joined by William MacAskill to provide a deeper understanding of “effective altruism” and how practicing its principles can help society as a whole.
Episode 151 – Will We Destroy the Future?
With man’s need for undying conquest and unsatiable wants, there’s no doubt that all of the resources in the world are bound to diminish. After all, it’s finite. But, is this an indicator that we’re bound to destroy the future?
Guest Nick Bostrom delves deeper into the problem of existential risk. Moreover, Sam and Nick discuss utilitarianism, the possibility of life as a computer simulation, the Doomsday argument, and the implications of life beyond Earth.
Episode 226 – The Price of Distraction
For decades and many more years to come, technology will impact society’s way of life, whether it’s for better or worse. One notable impact of technology is man’s undeniable diminishing ability to process information, according to a guest, Adam Gazzaley.
This episode aims to tackle discussions about man’s failure of multitasking, self-interruptions, task-switching costs, the future of brain-machine interface, and many more.
Episode 219 – The Power of Compassion
Does compassion have a physiology that we can understand or is it an innate emotion that arises from one’s ability to empathize? If you’re curious about it, this episode with James R. Doty might solve this peculiar dilemma.
Sam Harris is joined by James R. Doty, a clinical professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University. In this episode, they discuss the significance of childhood stress, the physiology, and nature of compassion, the relationship between wealth and empathy, and more.
Episode 77 – The Moral Complexity of Genetics
With Gregor Mendel leading a genetic breakthrough, it’s no wonder that the combination of advanced technology and man’s curiosity paves the way for more research that can alter the future of genes and genetic medicine itself.
This episode wanders into the possibility and the implications of manipulating hereditary. Moreover, it answers the question of whether such actions are considered ethical or not.
Episode 116 – AI: Racing Toward the Brink
The dawn of technology and its advantages brought artificial intelligence to life. However, with its breathtaking discoveries comes a rather terrifying possibility. Can we trust artificial intelligence not to turn on us and destroy humanity?
Joined by Eliezer Yudkowsky, Sam Harris uncovers the mindboggling aspects of artificial intelligence, its nature, AI arms race, and more.
Episode 144 – Conquering Hate
Nowadays, people are often fueled with anger as they engage in arguments that are meant to rectify statements or criticize movements. However, with correctness never being a “yes or no” matter, what can political correctness possibly mean?
Guest Deeyah Khan shares her take on the dangers of political correctness, her experience as a target of religious intolerance, her adventures with white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and her groundbreaking films, “Jihad,” and “White Right.”
Episode 123 – Identity & Honesty
Every individual has a moral duty, to be honest. But, with the innovation of self-publishing platforms and social media apps, facts can be twisted into a half-truth that is combined with biases that the whole world has access to read or consume.
As such, biases or opinionated statements can persuade an individual to sway away from the truth which can cause a fundamental problem for society. Episode 123 welcomes Editor-at-Large of Vox Media, Ezra Klein to share his thoughts about identity politics, intellectual honesty, and racism.