Science, Human Action, The Search for “Truth”, and Consequences | Part 1: Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, and the Search for “Truth”

Thinking on the Potential Dangers of Science Myopia (Photo: Joao Silas at

© 2018, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved.

In a recent podcast of a discussion by popular and best-selling authors Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson with the title “What Is True?”, these two high profile intellectuals attempted to discuss the nature of truth in science.

Harris had received more requests from his fans to interview Peterson than “any other person on earth.” Peterson is the author of the worldwide #1 bestseller, The 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

The discussion proceeded with the two hoping and expecting to identify some areas of fundamental agreement and disagreement in order to fuel intellectual sparring for Harris’s Waking Up podcast audience.

Instead, for more than two hours, Harris and Peterson agreed on almost nothing, which made the encounter all the more fascinating.

My observation is that while Peterson was able to understand and respond to the positions taken and challenges put forth by Sam Harris, Harris was not receptive to Peterson’s responses. From Harris’s perspective, Peterson was evading, equivocating, and generally not addressing the questions Harris was asking or the challenges Harris was raising to the positions Jordan Peterson was putting forth.

Peterson, on the other hand, indicated that he understood the questions and challenges Sam Harris was advancing, and felt that he was addressing the questions asked with appropriate answers. Still, making progress seemed to be a challenge for both participants.

Sam Harris later noted that the discussion wasn’t very productive, and they arranged to try again. Peterson agreed that perhaps he wasn’t as clear as he could have been in communicating his position, although he wasn’t even close to being vague and opaque.

This is the first in a 20-part blog looking at the issue of science, human action, and the search for truth. The focus is on a question raised in earnest in the mid-20th Century by economists and social scientists such as Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek, and touched on by Harris and Peterson, as to the nature and role of Science in society, and what, if anything, has gone wrong.

NEXT: Part 2. Sam Harris–Jordan Peterson “What is True?” Post-Podcast Analysis

Mises: The A Priori Nature of Human Action (pdf)

Barry Linetsky has learned a considerable amount from the writings of Mises and Hayek. Barry makes his living specializing in value-driven strategic management, and is the author of the acclaimed business biography The Business of Walt Disney and the Nine Principles of His Success (Theme Park Press, 2017) and Free Will: Sam Harris Has It (Wrong), both available from amazon. He frequently blogs at and has been published in the Ivey Business Journal and Rotman Magazine. Twitter @BizPhilosopher.

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