Sam Harris (Literally) Fights with a Reporter

The Atlantic‘s Graeme Wood recently visited Sam Harris to fight him using Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). I won’t say who wins, but this paragraph was just eye-opening:

Harris thinks about violence more than almost anyone else I have ever met. After our BJJ encounter, we went to a Korean restaurant on Beverly Boulevard, where he tried to explain his obsession with self-defense—including not just BJJ but also guns (he has several stashed strategically around his house) and physical force generally. He said that the response to his first book, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, published in 2004, had led to concern for the security of his wife and, more recently, his daughter, who is 4 years old. He asked me not to say where he lives. “People’s craziness has no expiration date,” he said. “I don’t know when someone is going to discover that thing I said about Islam or Christianity or Ayn Rand on YouTube seven years ago and decide that it’s a killing offense.”

Harris wrote about his obsession with BJJ a year ago on his website.

I could probably beat him in Mortal Kombat, though.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Sean_Lissemore

    What does this have to do with religion or atheism? This is a disgusting display of infatuation for a fellow Islamophobe. Get a room.

    • Inver Stone

      You mad Bro?

    • Sven2547

      The column is titled “The Atheist Who Strangled Me”. You would know if you clicked the link. You didn’t, though. You thought a better use of your time would be to leave a drive-by insult comment.

      • Sean_Lissemore

        So anything Sam Harris does is relevant to atheism… even if it is completely unrelated? Is Mehta going to start writing posts every time Harris takes a dump?

        Oh and it is debatable whether Harris is really an atheist given his past statements on the paranormal and mysticism. Wouldn’t be surprised if it came out he played with crystals.

        • SeekerLancer

          Being a bad skeptic doesn’t mean you’re not an atheist unless you want to start writing up a doctrine for people to follow. He doesn’t believe in god, whether or not he wants to believe in other mumbo jumbo is irrelevant.

          Sam Harris is a public figure that calls himself an atheist and is often in the media. Love him or hate him that kind of makes news about him relevant to a blog about atheism.

          If you want to be the gatekeeper of what is or isn’t relevant then write your own blog.

          • Sean_Lissemore

            He does not just present himself as an atheist in its most basic denotation. He throws his lot in with other atheists who are also skeptics. He is certainly not a skeptic given his past cooky statements. He is a charlatan.

        • Sven2547

          The article (which you still clearly have not read) discusses more than just jiu-jitsu. Philosophy, and debating Christian apologists comes up as well.
          Ultimately, you haven’t raised any coherent reason why Hemant shouldn’t post this on HIS blog.

          Oh, and atheism is the rejection of gods/deities. It does not automatically exclude other forms of supernatural hokum. Believing in crystal healing and other woo doesn’t disqualify someone from being an atheist. A close member of my family is an atheist who believes in ghosts, for example.

          • Sean_Lissemore

            But that was not what was highlighted and discussed on this site. Mehta wanted to focus on BJJ like a starry eyed school girl with a crush.

            Scientologists are also atheists in the very basic definition of the word. But that was clearly not the connotation I was using. And I would say this blog wouldn’t promote scientology because of this connotation I am referring to (i.e. skepticism).

            • Reginald Selkirk

              Mehta wanted to focus on BJJ like a starry eyed school girl with a crush.

              Are starry eyed school girls known for their affinity for martial arts? Or are you just a bad writer?

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                “Are starry eyed school girls known for their affinity for martial arts?”

                Only in anime.

              • Sean lisse

                Should I be surprised a neo-con like Harris tries to act overly macho? And yes school girls are attracted to the hilariously masculine.

            • http://twitter.com/SladeFoster Slade Foster

              Wow – project much?

              When Hemant hires you as a moderator, you can help decide which articles you think are worthy of an atheist blog. Until then, you simply come off as someone on Glenn Greenwald’s nob. We get that you don’t like Harris. Move along.

        • baal

          Sigh. Meditation is not necessarily mysticism. It’s pretty easy to discard all the woo from it and still practice. You could do with some practice given your evident hostility seen here.

        • Reginald Selkirk

          Oh Noez, you don’t like the material. Go start your own blog. Elsewhere.

    • SeekerLancer

      Until Hemant starts talking about wanting to ban mosques or take away people’s religious and civil rights I don’t really want to hear any more crap about him being an Islamaphobe.

      • Sean_Lissemore

        Um, Sam Harris does

        • SeekerLancer

          Is Sam Harris actually Hemant Mehta’s secret identity?

          Seriously what does that have to do with anything? The article being linked to here isn’t even very positive. It kind of paints Harris as paranoid (which I would agree, he is).

          • Sven2547

            I, for one, have never seen Sam Harris and Hemant Mehta in the same place. Just saying. ;)

          • Sean_Lissemore

            Judging by the posts on this site Mehta obviously has a significant amount of respect for Harris.

            • SeekerLancer

              You can have respect for someone without agreeing with everything they believe. I have respect for Penn Jillette, but I think his political views are mostly complete and utter hogwash.

              • Sean_Lissemore

                I have trouble respecting people who support bigotry. Call me crazy.

                • Matt

                  Something about casting the first stone or something. Insert atheist equivalent here.

                • timberwraith

                  Seconded.

                • timberwraith

                  Seconded.

                  That was a reply in support of Sean’s having trouble respecting people who support bigotry. Unfortunately, the lack of comment nesting made the context of my comment a bit confusing.

                • timberwraith

                  It’s always fun to see a bunch of supposedly rational people promote those who are clearly hateful individuals. It doesn’t matter how many examples are provided of Harris’ biases, there will always be a group of fans ready to rationalize away the author’s hatred.

                  Those who fancy themselves to be superior rationalists are often quite superior at rationalizing.

                  It takes great intelligence and creativity to craft a maze of logic whose byzantine passages lead to one’s starting point. The intricacy is dazzling, but the end result is still unconvincing.

                  .

                • Black Bart

                  Boring

                • timberwraith

                  Boring

                  I see that the quality of this comment thread is beginning to resemble the ones appearing beneath YouTube videos.

            • liu

              Yes, just as he respects all the crazy religious people that he constantly, constantly talks about. He must think those people are the bee’s knees.

    • Gus Snarp

      Really? Sounds like it’s time for somebody to move on to another blog.

      • timberwraith

        I’d rather see him stick around and stir the waters of the echo chamber a bit, actually.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    weird.

    • Ted Tedly

      Why is it weird? Is it weird because it flies in the face of your “wish it was” world view?

      Your response “weird” is weird.

      But by all means, let us all line up and be exactly alike, or at least have the same world view as everyone else.

      Zig Heil.

      • blasphemous_kansan

        Wow. That escalated quickly.
        You’re weird.

      • Gus Snarp

        Most. Non sequitur. Godwin. Ever. (also in the running for worst spelled).

      • SeekerLancer

        Wow, at least give her time to respond to your “why” before going full Godwin.

  • Bdole

    I only recently started reading some of Sam Harris’s stuff. The more I read, the more I like him. From freewill to Islam to guns and, especially, violence, I enjoy reading his opinions since he does seem to want to get to the truth. Unfortunately, like most armchair thinkers sometimes his picture of the world doesn’t match with the reality and all its confouding details.

    I, too have guns stashed in my dwelling, the diminutive size of which doesn’t allow for much in the way of strategic placement.

    • http://twitter.com/jordan_olsen26 Jordan Olsen

      So many people pass judgment and spread false rumors about him without even reading his work. Taking things out of context from his writings can be especially vitriolic when you consider the nature of what he writes about.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        My judgement on Harris gets worse the more I read of his. It’s not all bad, but IMO he’s a lot more clay than a lot of other atheists I’ve read.

    • baal

      I would have thought diminutive guns would be easier to stash than full sized ones.

      • Bdole

        Ah, I meant my place, not the guns. They’re rifles. Alas, I had more room when I bought them than I do now.

        • baal

          Of course, the big guns take up space. I had more room before I bought a couch.*

          *I’m not really this dense but it’s been fun to suggest it.

  • Gus Snarp

    I can’t imagine living my life in such constant fear as Harris seems to be. Much less turning to a fantasy of using guns and Brazilian Ju Jitsu to defend myself from the attackers in my head. I guess some people who live in fear turn to god, others turn to stockpiling weapons. The worst do both.

    Are you this afraid of the people who disagree with you, Hemant? I know PZ hasn’t turned to keeping a small arsenal to ward off blog trolls. I guess you guys aren’t as famous. I wonder what Dawkins’ security looks like? I know he’s not allowed to load up on guns in the UK, and I can’t imagine he’s much of a fighter. Is he as scared as Harris? Or is Harris maybe just a little paranoid?

    Of course, violent threats should be taken seriously. Obviously in some cases more seriously than others, such as Salman Rushdie. But I’d rather put my safety in the hands of law enforcement than the fantasy notion of personal self defense that relies on my being a better fighter or quicker on the draw than anyone who wishes to do me ill.

    • Sean_Lissemore

      his state of constant fear might explain his bigotry.

      • Fuck You

        What bigotry? You idiots just have your heads firmly up your collective asses when it comes to ANYTHING that goes outside your bubbles.

    • Matt

      It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be one of the most recognizable atheists in the country(/world?). Tough to empathize with that level of infamy.

    • sunburned

      Why would you consider placing your safety in the hands of law-enforcement when they are under no obligation to protect you?

      • Reginald Selkirk

        It looks like the appearance of Teh Libertarian Troll is complete.

      • Sean_Lissemore

        how are people like you and harris not as cooky and paranoid as religious people?

        • sunburned

          Ahh, I see. Right to the ad hominem attacks. Meanwhile, back in reality, the courts have made rulings such as Warren v. District of Columbia that plainly state that police do not have a duty to provide police services to individuals.

          If I’m going to place my faith in something, it damn well be something that has some sort of obligation to honor that faith.

      • Gus Snarp

        Because they are under just that obligation. Because that is the basic social compact that all members of a civilized society operate under and have since the birth of civilization, even if they pretend not to.

        • sunburned

          No, they are not under that obligation.

          See: Warren v. District of Columbia, among others.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

            No. That is not what Warren v. DC said. It said that the police department is not _liable_ for failure to provide adequate protection (unless a “special relationship” exists). That means the police cannot be sued for damages by the victims of a crime. It does _not_ mean the police do not have a duty to protect the population. The DC Court of Appeals held that the DC Metro police and 911 dispatcher had indeed been negligent in its duties in its response to the initial 911 call made by Warren.

            • sunburned

              Actually that is exactly what it says:

              “The respective trial judges held that that police were under no specific legal duty to provide protection to the individual appellants and dismissed the complaints for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted”. From the Majority concerning opinion by Nebeker

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                You are misinterpreting that quote. “specific legal duty” = “special relationship” = the person is under police protection for some reason. The complaint was dismissed because the police did not have a specific duty to protect those particular people _above other people_ at that particular time, and so the court held that they could not sue the police for damages.

                But the police and the dispatcher were still negligent in their duty to response appropriately to the initial 911 call.

                • sunburned
                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  Both of those articles make clear the distinction between the general duty of the police to protect the population with the lack of a duty to protect individuals who are not specifically under police protection. The mistake you have been making is to not distinguish those two.

                • sunburned

                  Hilarious. So let’s get this straight. The police have a general duty to protect the population, but no duty to protect individuals of the population.

                  I can see how this could be confusing since we happen to be talking about individuals being able to protect themselves:)

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  No. Again, it goes like this:

                  The police have a duty to protect the entire population and to provide additional protection to specific people. If someone who is not to be provided additional protection is the victim of a crime, the police cannot be held responsible and be compelled to pay damages to the victim.

                • sunburned

                  So tell us. What happens when police fail to provide police services to an individual?

                  Let’s say that you are woken up in the middle of the night by someone rummaging through your living room. You quickly dial 911 from a telephone where the operator tells you that she is sending a unit over. 45 minutes go by and no police, long enough for your dog to be killed and daughter raped.

                  The squad car ended up on the other side of town and shows up a full hour and a half later.

                  What recourse do you have to? It’s not to sue them is it?

        • Godless Monster

          “Because they are under just that obligation.”
          Oh no they are not. Common misconception.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

            You appear to be implying the same mistake that sunburned made.

            • Godless Monster

              A cop is obligated to respond to dispatched calls, act on crimes committed in his/her presence and felonies reported by a citizen or suspected by them although not committed in their presence.

              They are not obligated to keep you and your little lady safe at night while you slumber in your beds or while you stroll down the street or walk to your car from the mall.

              That’s what I meant, nothing more.

              Cops show up to take reports and draw chalk lines around bodies.

              You are responsible for your own safety. Period. End of story. Full stop.

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                Not quite. The police are responsible for law enforcement and the protection of the entire population, as well of specific people who are under protection.

                And saying “you are responsible for your own safety” is far too close to victim-blaming. If someone attacks me, it is _their_ responsibility.

                Also: I consider the potential sexism inherent in your referring to my wife as ” your little lady “. She is nobody’s person but her own, and her height seems entirely irrelevant here.

                • Godless Monster

                  First off, apologies for getting you so upset. I often forget that some on this blog are very delicate in their natures and extremely sensitive. No insult was intended. As far as the rest of your comment, all I can say to that is … are you fucking kidding me? Also, did you understand what the two letters “LE” meant when I gave you my background? Tell you what, you can have the last word, I’m done here. G’night all.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  You appear to be over-estimating how much I felt insulted. But please don’t go into the line of calling people who object to sexism as “very delicate in their natures and extremely sensitive”.

                • Godless Monster

                  I over-estimated nothing. You were upset enough to make my comment an issue in a public forum. If it didn’t get you all sad and upset, you’d never have brought it up. I’m also not interested in playing the “my dick is bigger game” with you. My comment wasn’t intended to insult your wife and I’m sure she’s a fine human being. This is just silly.

        • Godless Monster

          Seriously, though…even if they WERE under obligation to protect you…they can’t. Police work is almost always reactive in nature. They respond to complaints. They don’t fight crime head on. It’s extremely rare that anyone can say that they were saved from robbery, rape or murder due to the quick intervention of local law enforcement.

    • Godless Monster

      “But I’d rather put my safety in the hands of law enforcement…”

      Good luck with that. Many have died thinking the same thing.

      I have no problem with those people who say they would rather die or be injured than do harm to another human being. I disagree with that POV, but I can at least respect it as someone else’s opinion. However, what you are offering as a reasonable alternative to being prepared is pure fantasy. Also, the notion of needing to be Quick Draw McGraw or Bruce Lee in order to adequately defend yourself is incorrect.

      • Gus Snarp

        And yet….

        Statistically speaking the odds of any of you becoming a victim of violent crime is rather low here in the U.S.

        I wonder if that’s because private individuals own guns, or because there’s a basic social compact involving allowing the law to adjudicate disputes and enforce justice (along with relative economic prosperity)? Given that the same is true in most of the developed world, I’m inclined toward the latter.

        • Godless Monster

          Again, good luck with that. I’ll continue to live in the real world, thanks.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

            The UK, Australia, and Canada aren’t “the real world” ?

            • Godless Monster

              Taking responsibility for your own safety is not limited to ownership of weapons, but owning firearms responsibly is a good start.
              In regards to the studies about guns in homes leading to more guns deaths than those that don’t…well, it’s just plain silly. If you eliminate suicides, the numbers involved are infinitesimally small and you should know that.

              BTW, did you know that those who own and drive cars are more likely to die in a car accident than those who do not own or drive in cars? Those who own ladders and climb up those ladders to paint their homes or clean their gutters are more likely to die from falls than those who don’t own ladders or homes to paint?

      • Pseudonym

        Many have also died thinking that it’s better to defend themselves. Many have died through accidents involving equipment obtained to defend themselves just in case it ever came to that.

        But I understand your concern. In many parts of the US, law enforcement feels less of an obligation to protect the innocent than it does in the civilised world.

        You could always protect yourself by moving somewhere else. As was recently pointed out on the Daily Show, for example, if you’re scared of mass shootings, Australia is pretty nice.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          Yes, Australia is pretty nice (for many reasons). But anyone who makes the argument “if you don’t like people getting shot here, you can move elsewhere” seriously is wrong. The goal is not just individual safety. The goal is for _everyone_ to be more safe.

          It occurs to me that there are two different approaches to a problem being illustrated on this thread. Problem: “People get attacked and killed”. Solution 1: “I’m going to get a gun and be good at hand-to-hand”. Solution 2: “We should change society so that people have fewer means and less desire to attack and kill others”. The first solution is individually-based and ultimately self-defeating (e.g. “I need a gun to protect myself from people with guns.”). The second solution is longer-term and takes a lot of cooperative effort, but is far more effective.

          • Pseudonym

            Yeah, I didn’t intend it seriously.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              Given that the Daily Show didn’t, I suspected as much. But I suspect that it has been made seriously before.

          • Godless Monster

            ” The second solution is longer-term and takes a lot of cooperative effort, but is far more effective.”
            I’d agree with you 100% if you replaced “is” with “could be”. To date, nobody has come up with all the answers to solving all of our problems with violence. To think that idiot politicians and bureaucrats are going to do a better job of looking after my best interests than me is just nuts. There’s no other way to put it.

            So, until someone comes up with a realistic solution to the problem of violence, I will take personal responsibility for the safety and myself and my loved ones.
            It is possible to embrace both concepts at the same time, you know. This isn’t a black or white scenario for everyone.

    • Bdole

      “Much less turning to a fantasy of using guns and Brazilian Ju Jitsu to defend myself from the attackers in my head.” I don’t think this meshes with what Harris has written about confronting violence. Have you read his “The Truth About Violence” post?

      http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-truth-about-violence

      In it he indicates that martial arts doesn’t train you for real-life violence. He also advises getting out of the house as quickly as possible in the case of home invasion even if you have a gun and are well-trained to use it.

      It’s not paranoid to think about violence, especially for someone who’s been threatened with it and is a relatively high-profile critic of Islam.

      After being mugged (actually, the 2nd time) I thought a LOT about what to do if the muggers come to my home – after stealing my keys and wallet with my drivers’ license in it. Of course I changed the locks that very day, but they could come for the car or to try their luck. I thought constantly about what I could do if they gained entry. My thoughts also turned to what I could do to defend myself outside. My answer: not much! Even having guns (purchased long before) didn’t give me much comfort.

      • Gus Snarp

        From what I’ve read of his on the topic, I’d say he’s not been entirely consistent on this in his writings.

  • baal

    The piece in the Atlantic is a hoot and I recommend folks go read it. For another hoot, check out this one on the Hitch. I’ll leave it to you the kind reader to guess which is satire.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      Wood correctly identifies Dawkins as a zoologist. I’ll give him an extra point for that.

    • Gus Snarp

      Oh, that’s funny. Oddly, I think Hitch would approve.

  • Godless Monster

    I would submit that Harris isn’t living in fear at all. After all, he owns firearms and is knowledgeable in a particularly effective form of martial arts. I’m armed and have an extensive background in combat fighting. I’m not living in fear at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.
    Harris doesn’t appear to be paranoid, It seems he’s simply prepared for the possibility that someone crazy or evil may want to do harm to him and/or his family. For this some of you condemn him? I find it odd that he is judged so harshly by some here just for choosing to be prepared.

    If some of you want to go through life thinking that bad things only happen to “the other guy” or that the police will be able to protect you from evil, then fine. Keep living like that and I wish you long life, health and happiness. Statistically speaking the odds of any of you becoming a victim of violent crime is rather low here in the U.S. For some, the odds are good enough to ignore the reality that bad things do happen and that cops have a job that is normally reactive in nature, not proactive.
    There’s nothing wrong with taking responsibility for your own safety. Better to have and not need, than to need and not have.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      Since you’re a fan of statistics: is it more likely that Harris will use one of those guns to fend off an intruder, or that he or a family member will be injured by it accidentally?

      • Godless Monster

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ooa98FHuaU0

        This video doesn’t answer your question, but it is a good video, nonetheless. I take issue with your question as it doesn’t take social and economic status into account. People in a higher income bracket and with a higher education are far less likely to have the kind of accidents that you’ll read and hear of happening in the inner city or some hillbilly backwater. At least in Michigan, this is where the majority of these kinds of things happen. Sadly, the children of stupid parents often pay the ultimate price. I’ll be the first to say that some people are just too stupid and/or ignorant to own butter knives, much less firearms.

        I’m not toeing the NRA line on everything and think that those who want to own firearms should go through a federally approved and mandated safety course and renew it every 5 years. No exceptions, even for BB guns. As an aside, tt’s a shame that the background check bill was killed off and I’m as steamed about it as any gun grabber might be. It actually offered gun owners more protection, but the propaganda (lies) of the NRA killed the bill. It’s criminal.
        numbers in any of my comments.mind. from me, and I’m not going to give them up because you want me to.

        • Godless Monster

          Ignore the last few sentences. The system didn’t allow me to erase the last few sentences. Stop at “It’s criminal”.

    • baal

      Actually, my #1 complaint about Sam’s arguments is that he over values rare catastrophic events. That’s a sign of a person who is generally fearful. That can be due to genetics (ever meet twitchy easy to scare people?) or history (randomly violent parents for example). In the real world, I have to be a little careful since I apparently scare folks like that by merely sitting in the same room.

      • Godless Monster

        You make some interesting observations. I’m of the opinion, however, that there is no harm in being prepared for “catastrophic events”. Also, we’d need to come to an agreement on what defines “rare”, right? At any rate, thanks for adding something of value to the discussion. I’m bored with the armchair/mall ninja and/or gun grabbing bs that i’m reading here for the most part.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          No. There is harm in preparing for rare catastrophic events if the actions taken in planning for them can be expected to cause more problems than the expected risk from their happening. e.g. people should not take prophylactic antibiotics all the time because the health risk of bacteria evolving resistance is greater than the health benefit of there being fewer infections.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

    One tangential observation:

    Neither Brazilian jiujitsu, nor wrestling, nor karate, nor any specific martial arts style is the “one best” for self-defense. They’re all useful for fighting in particular limited situations. BJJ and most other current mixed martial arts are designed for one person fighting one other person in a closed ring with a padded floor. This is not a common self-defense situation. Other styles (e.g. some varieties of aikido) focus on multiple opponents and getting out of the way, but even that is an artificial situation because using various effective self-defense moves would result in a shortage of people to practice with. It is far better to avoid fights in the first place.

    Harris’ gun-stashing habit also is problematic. People who have guns in their homes are far more likely to be injured or killed than those who don’t, and especially if those guns are not safely stored (a better example of storage: my father-in-law stores his target-shooting guns broken down in a gun safe, with the bullets locked up separately).

    I can understand Harris’ fears for his personal safety, but BJJ and stashed handguns are not recommended strategies for reducing the risk to your person.

    • Godless Monster

      “BJJ and stashed handguns are not recommended strategies for reducing the risk to your person.”

      What are recommended strategies and who recommends them? BJJ is particularly effective, although not as good as, for example. S.C.A.R.S. (Special Combat Aggressive Reactionary System), which was part of the Naval Combat fighting course (along with some BJJ, believe it or not) for many years and which I am very familiar with. There is also Krav Maga (Israeli) which I’ve seen to be an excellent fighting system through an instructor friend, but admittedly I have little “hands on” experience in the system. So, while I’ll concede that BJJ is not “the best”, it is still far superior to many of the usual martial arts alternatives available.
      As far as having guns stashed around the home, it shouldn’t be an issue as long as they are easily accessible to the owner without presenting an everyday hazard to other home occupants and/or visitors. It is possible to have quick and easy access to firearms without endangering others. It just has to be done intelligently and responsibly.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

        Strategies as recommended by my karate and aikido teachers (who included some former US Marines & Army; Japanese, South Korean, Russian, and Israeli army; and one professional bodyguard): 1. Avoid escalating any confrontation. 2. Get out of there. 3. Call for backup and/or make a huge amount of noise to get attention.

        BJJ is effective in one-on-one confrontations. It is not useful if you have to deal with three or four unarmed attackers, or anyone with weapons. Indicated procedure in that case, as related by one of my teachers who was the victim of an attempted mugging: block initial attack, throw one opponent into another and _run away_.

        With regards to firearms: your argument is invalid. Any storage system that makes guns easily accessible to the owner (especially if they are loaded) automatically makes them potentially accessible to anyone else.

        • Godless Monster

          Young man, you’re obviously not familiar with the different quick access electronic safes available. Bone up on that stuff before telling folks they’re wrong

          In regards to your resume, my background is in LE and security going back to 1980. I worked as a sub-contractor for the DHS stateside and overseas as a private military contractor performing force protection for U.S. Army SF advisors to a foreign military. Also, a former use of force and firearms instructor.
          The strategies you listed are fine for some scenarios, but not all. Choreographed martial arts shit will eventually get your ass kicked or killed. Real world experience counts for something in this kind of exchange.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

            How is Harris’ having “several [handguns] stashed strategically around his house” equal to having his guns stored in an electronic-locked safe? And even in that case, the CDC/DoJ/private research on gun violence contradict your assertion.

            And where did I mention “choreographed martial arts shit” ? My instructors were all very clear that the sparring done in class isn’t what you use for self-defense, and neither is what you use as a bodyguard or a cop or a soldier.

            • Godless Monster

              “How is Harris’ having “several [handguns] stashed strategically around
              his house” equal to having his guns stored in an electronic-locked safe?”

              You’ve been to his house? Are you stating for a fact that he isn’t intelligent or wealthy enough to afford such a simple (and low cost) means of securing his firearms? It’s not like these haven’t been out for awhile. I’d be shocked if he was that careless and stupid. Perhaps I’m assuming the best about the man, but I have no reason to do otherwise.
              As far as avoiding violence, that’s great in theory. I’ve worked in several hot spots overseas and not once was I able to pick the time and place to be attacked. Funny how that shit works. No, my focus was on doing my fucking job and getting back to my hooch in one piece. You are either ready for shit to happen or you are not. It’s stupid to look for trouble, but that’s for another discussion.

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                I do not know how Harris stores his guns, although I suspect that having several guns “stored strategically” in different locations is not the same as “stored unloaded and partially broken down in non-portable locked safes”. I merely quote the data: in the US at the present time, _even gun owners who store their guns safely_ have a far higher chance of getting shot than non-gun owners do.

                Also, re. avoiding violence: I am confused by your analogy. You go to a hot spot for violence, where it is your job to protect people who need to be there for whatever reason and get back in one piece. Good. But how is that at relevant comparison to saying that we should try and ensure that places are not hot spots for violence in the first place?

                • Godless Monster

                  It’s always a good idea (when in the world) to avoid places where trouble may find you. I’m moving to Grosse Pointe Farms this summer. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for me to stroll up and down Jefferson Ave next door in Detroit with my little hot wife while wearing a 1200 dollar suit and a Lange and Sohne. That’s just begging for an attempted robbery and rape. I get it. I’d still win, but that’s besides the point. If there’s no reason to get into shit, then stay out of it. I’m a grown man with two kids in college (first marriage), and I didn’t reach this age by fucking with people needlessly or tempting fate when not at work.

                • Artor

                  You’re forgetting that this thread is about Sam Harris and his self-defense concerns. He’s not looking for fights, but he’s concerned about rabid nutjobs seeking him out with violent intent.

                • Godless Monster

                  No, I’m responding to Michael’s “mall-ninja” silliness. Please read all my posts and you’ll understand better where I’m coming from.

          • sane37

            “Young Man”
            Nice, condescending tone negates your argument.

            • Fuck You

              No, little one, it does not.

        • Godless Monster

          “1. Avoid escalating any confrontation. 2. Get out of there. 3. Call
          for backup and/or make a huge amount of noise to get attention”

          Sounds like generic advice given to housewives at community rec center rape prevention classes. This is not a plan for surviving an attack. Let’s look at this “advice”:

          “Avoid escalating any confrontation” – Good advice for the playground, but nowhere else.

          “Get out of there.” – And if your escape routes are blocked?

          “Call for backup and/or make a huge amount of noise to get attention”- And if you’re in the middle of BFE?

          This type of advice is worthless.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

            Unless you’re at a bar, in a school, or any other place with a large number of people. You’re of course right that the best response depends on the situation, and if you are actually attacked you have to fight (at least long enough to get away). But what fraction of self-defense cases happen out in the middle of nowhere with attackers that will pursue you?

            In the particular case of Harris’ stashing guns around his home: how likely is his house to be broken into by people who are willing to hurt or kill the people inside rather than run away when confronted by someone?

            The demographics say that his stashing guns around his place increase the net risk of the people who live there at greater risk of being injured or dying – the increased risk from the guns being around more than offsets the decrease from their use in self-defense.

            • Shut Up Kid

              You are arguing from a weak knee kid. While I often disagree and get into it with GM, he has a resume/CV of security/defense and combat that far surpasses your University of Google College of Hypothetical Nonsense.

              What amazes me is how polite GM has been, and yet even when he presents fact and evidence, you choose to double down and try to continue to argue. Your’s is a fool’s voice indeed.

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                Irrelevant insults aside, you have not actually addressed my point. The evidence says that Harris’ stashing guns around his home is most likely increasing the risk of death or injury for the people who are there. That is _independent_ of GM’s resume and skills, and of my resume and skills.

            • Godless Monster

              I know understand the problem, here. You see fights as two or more people duking it out like in Roadhouse. You keep making the canned American dojo master remarks about “avoiding” confrontation. This is just idiotic (reverse psychology) macho posturing on the part of your instructors. Stop repeating it, you just look silly doing so.
              In the grown-up world, there are brawls and then there are fights. The former usually ends with one guy punching another guy and they roll around on the ground for a few seconds until the victor is satisfied that he’s dominated the situation and then leaves with his chest puffed out.
              Then there is the clawing, biting, rib cracking, eye gouging encounter because you aren’t going to get into that car with those smelly little fuckers who want to saw your head off with a dull knife over a mattress somewhere like just happened to the Apache tech who got snatched two days before.

              • Godless Monster

                another fucking typo…”know” should be “now”

            • Godless Monster

              “Unless you’re at a bar, in a school, or any other place with a large number of people.”
              You think that someone out of a “large number of people” can be counted on to come to your aid? Are you for real? Buddy, most people will just walk by quickly and let you get pounded into a bloody red raspberry paste or record it on their phones for posting on YouTube. How incredibly naive.

              You may as well tell folks to “Stop, drop and roll”. It would be just as effective.
              Yes, if you cannot adequately ward off an attack and you are omniscient enough to be absolutely sure that the attacker is not committed to your serious injury or demise, then by all means, pull out your rape whistle and prance away as quickly as your twinkle toes will carry you. Let me ask you a few questions. Have you ever been in a brawl? What was the outcome? Have you ever fought for your life? I know the outcome to that, because you are still alive. Do you truly understand the difference between the two?

          • http://twitter.com/SladeFoster Slade Foster

            “Sounds like generic advice given to housewives at community rec center rape prevention classes.”

            That is priceless.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              It is also sexist and offensive.

              • Godless Monster

                Sam Harris is concerned with surviving an attack, not a fucking bar brawl. I’m addressing the issue, you are not. Yes, it is intelligent and recommended to not get into fights. What’s your point? I’m not discussing playground/bar-room fights (they are effectively the same), I am talking about fighting to save your life, and you cannot have that discussion without the inclusion of weapons, including firearms. It’s not pleasant, but it’s the reality of combat. If you want to live if someone armed invades your home, then you had better be ready to take a life. A firearm is the most expedient way in which to accomplish this.

              • sane37

                Plus if you’re brown and win, you go to jail.

                • Godless Monster

                  I’m brown (Arab-American)..are you speaking from personal experience?

                • sane37

                  yes. They let me out once the witnesses started explaining things, that I was not the aggressor, but it still was a major waste of time. I did’t appreciate the knee on the back of my neck nor being thrown to the ground.

              • SAR Tech

                You have never been off you campus or Ivory Tower bubble. That is obvious. Kid, try going to a global hot spot and get yourself into a very real, very sincere situation of danger. Your little asinine tune will change in three notes, and cause you to cry and call for people like GM to rescue your sorry, silly little ass.

              • Godless Monster

                ” Because even if you win, you are likely to get injured. And that risk only increases when weapons are involved.”

                This is just hilarious. Of COURSE you are likely to get injured in a fight! Much of the time it is unavoidable. You offer nothing from firsthand personal experience or common sense. This exchange is like shooting fish in a barrel.

              • http://twitter.com/SladeFoster Slade Foster

                Sorry Mike – that is absolutely _priceless_, because it is an accurate description of your bleating when it is increasingly obvious you have zero experience in this area. People like you are the reason websites like bullshido.net exist.

          • sane37

            “This type of advice is worthless.”

            That last line describes your advice very well.

            • Godless Monster

              Whatever. If you’d pull your head out of your ass long enough to see, you’d see that I was (mostly) directing criticism at poor and/or dangerous advice and not necessarily dispensing my own specific instructions on how to do this or that. I charge money for that nowadays.

      • Tait

        Man, S.C.A.R.S? From Peterson and Larkin teaching this kind of stuff?
        http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=17020692

        From what I’ve seen in video and heard in the MA community, it’s not the worst system out there, but definitely greatly over hyped and doesn’t hold a candle to anything as proven as Krav Maga and BJJ.

        • Godless Monster

          From what I’ve seen in person (not video) Krav Maga is at least as good, if not better than S.C.A.R.S., However, that (S.C.A.R.S.) was one of the systems “in vogue” during my time, which goes back a few decades. It did the job for me, as is evidenced by the fact that I am able to write this to you today. if you’ve got anything from personal and professional experience to add to the conversation then please do so. I don’t hang out with MMA or MA types and I’m not a fan of violence as a means of entertainment. If all you have to offer is more Goggle mall-ninja bullshit, then please don’t waste your time or mine.

          • Godless Monster

            typo…”Goggle” should of course be “Google”

          • Tait

            Sorry, just surprised to see an endorsement for such an untested/unproven combat system as ideal on a site full of skeptics.

    • liu

      I must agree, at least with your comments on martial ars. BJJ contains many good techniques, and is a useful tool for self defense, but it tends to be overblown so that it sounds like “the One True System.” BJJ is more useful in a competition setting, where you’re only facing one attacker, and things like eye gouging/groin mutilating (two things that BJJ has no specific defenses for) are banned. You’re much better off training a variety of styles (Krav Maga and Muay Tai are excellent, although I’m a fan of Escrima as well) so that you learn the tools to defend yourself in a variety of situations.

      As for the guns, I don’t see any problem with them really, as long as he’s got them somewhere safe as well as easily accessible; an electronic safe would seem like the best option, as it’s something his kid can’t get into, but it’s there when he needs it.

      • Tait

        While Krav Maga, MT and Eskrima are great in their stand up techniques, they would be useless if you’re on the ground with a 250lb gorilla on your chest. Or find yourself without a stick.
        BJJ is not the one true system. Its just the only thing worth learning if you want to know self defence that doesnt make the very dangerous assumption that an assault starts standing and at striking distance.
        As for your vast knowledge in what BJJ practitioners do and don’t have defensive moves for, I find it strange that you claim there’s no defense for eye gouges and groin “mutilation” (weird term for MA, sounds like circumcision), yet that’s a big part of what we practice in my BJJ class, when we roll “street rules” so……maybe dig a bit deeper?

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          “BJJ is not the one true system. Its just the only thing worth learning if you want to know self defence that doesn’t make the very dangerous assumption that an assault starts standing and at striking distance.”

          There are many other systems that do not make that assumption. And, as explained here before, self defense is not equal to “skill at hand-to-hand combat”.

          • Tait

            Yeah, we’re all well aware of the avoiding part of things. Its taught in every respectable martial arts facility there is.

            As for the overlap of other arts. Yes they have some ground techniques. No, theyre not even close to what BJJ/submission grappling has to offer in regards to self defence.

            Wrestling and judo are both very reliant on maintaining top position. Those practitioners have great top game, but put them on their backs and they’re fish out of water. Wrestlers especially. Judo players will try to lock down and hold on to you, but generally have little to offer in the way of sweeps/escapes, which are very important should someone put you on the ground.
            Given that self defence usually means you are not the aggressor, you will most likely not have a choice on what position you’re in when the attack happens. And if you are not prepared for the worst (being put on the ground) then you really dont have much.

        • liu

          The idea that you’re going to end up fighting on the ground with a single opponent is just as much a “dangerous assumption” as is the idea that you’ll start a fight from a standing striking distance. In that they’re both situations that you want to prepare for. When it comes to ground fighting, it doesn’t get better than BJJ, an so it should be an essential part of anyones repertoire in my opinion. But the idea that you’ll only ever fight a single opponent at a time on the ground is unrealistic, and it shouldn’t be ones entire approach to self defense.

          Also, yeah, “genital mutilation” was kind of an awkward word for me to use in this context. I was searching around for a word that encompassed not only strikes to the groin, but grabbing and twisting as well. What I came up with doesn’t really work work. Oh well.

          • Tait

            You’re getting confused in a way many people do these days about BJJ. Sport BJJ is not the same as the original, self defence based BJJ (or GJJ). Contrary to what many people think, BJJ practitioners do not want to go to the ground, or be on the bottom. In sport BJJ, sure plenty of guys pull guard and have a great bottom game. In self defence, its just the opposite. The goal is to start from a terrible position (mounted), protect yourself, sweep, get on top, cause damage if needed, escape.

            And in regard to the “single opponent” comments. What other art is there that will help you, should you be on the ground 1 or with many attackers. I’m not saying BJJ wil help you fight off many guys, but at least itll give you a chance to get back up so you can escape.
            In general, if you are outnumbered, you are f*cked. All the McDojo Masters out there can claim what they want, but in reality, multiple assailants basically means you need to run as fast as you can before you get a beer mug in the face.

    • Artor

      It hardly matters which style is “best,” as the self-defense practitioner will rarely be confronted by skilled opponents. Any formal fighting training will provide a significant edge over untrained jihadists or murderous rednecks. If you’re attacked by a gang, you’re probably screwed anyway if you can’t get away. The ability to throw an attacker ass over eyeballs into a wall is a fight-stopper, no matter where you learn it.

    • http://twitter.com/SladeFoster Slade Foster

      “Other styles (e.g. some varieties of aikido) focus on multiple opponents and getting out of the way, but even that is an artificial situation because using various effective self-defense moves would result in a shortage of people to practice with.”

      You are talking out of an orifice that was not evolved for that purpose.

      Why do I get the overwhelming sensation that you have “read about a lot of different martial arts” or “seen lots of MMA fights”, or stayed in a Holiday Inn last night?

      And reading more of your comments below about your “karate and aikido teachers” merely confirms it. I love internet bad-asses.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

        My martial arts training consists of five years of karate and aikido, split between the Caltech Karate Club, the Shotokan Karate group in Santa Monica, and a few other groups around LA. I’ve stopped practicing regularly since I moved out of town, although I do still do some solo kata. Since my various teachers understood the importance of cross-training and had trained extensively in different styles themselves, there were also touches of boxing, judo, muay thai, and kendo. Misha knew his sambo from when he was in the Russian army, grad students and postdocs from South Korea and Israeli had learned the respective hand-to-hand programs from their military service, etc. And since I post under my real name, you could have figured that all out fairly easily.

        But all that is irrelevant. What in the statement you have quoted are you saying is wrong?

        • liu

          Ah, arguing about martial arts on the internet. The only thing more annoying and unrewarding than arguing about god on the internet.

    • PickaName

      Bjj is not designed for multiple attackers. And there’s a reason you don’t see aikido in MMA. It doesn’t work against a trained fighter. What does a padded floor and a closed ring have to do with the effectiveness of a martial art? For a combat situation, one man vs another man, hand to hand combat, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is by far the most efficient and practical art. Are there ways to combat it? Yes. But it almost always means training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, so you can counter the effectiveness of it. Bottom line, if you’re a decent Jiu Jitsu fighter, and they aren’t, you’re probably going to win.

  • timberwraith

    Along the way, Harris developed an interest in the Ultimate Fighting
    Championship, a freestyle martial-arts competition, begun in 1993, that
    he describes as “a science experiment that martial artists had waited
    centuries to have happen.” Would a boxer win? A karate guy? A wrestler?
    “It was everyone’s fantasy,” Harris told me. “Who’s stronger: Batman or
    Superman?”

    Long ago, I began to notice that verbal battle on atheist websites strongly resembled the male verbal pissing matches I recall observing in high school. A certain kind of posturing seems to pop up again and again. This piece about Harris drips with the kind of macho posturing I’ve seen in insecure boys and men throughout my life.

    And guns hidden throughout the house? Wow. I hope they are unloaded and the ammunition is stored away from children.

    Other than that, I’m not sure what to say.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      Harris is wrong about the UFC. It _isn’t_ such an experiment. It’s a carefully-constructed environment in which fighters are matched in weight, wear particular gear, are not allowed to use a large number of techniques (e.g. eye and throat strikes), and fight in rounds one-on-one in a closed octagonal ring with a padded floor. The long list of disallowed techniques is a good thing – otherwise the injury rate would be even more horrendous than it is (the only good thing I can say about the UFC in that respect is that it has a lower rate of fighters getting punch-drunk than boxing does).

      But notice how the environment is set up to favor BJJ and other similar styles, as I described earlier? This is not a coincidence. The Gracie family were among the early organizers of the UFC, and BJJ is their style. They set up an environment that favored their favorite techniques.

      • timberwraith

        Thanks for the insight, Michael. I can’t really add an opinion to what you said.

        I can’t bring myself to watch sports like this. Having suffered through a lot of physical abuse as a child, it’s incredibly triggering to see people physically batter each other, even though it’s all in the name of skill and mastery.

        I’ll hang out with friends at a baseball game, though. But, you know, it’s a lot more tame than boxing or UFC.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          I can’t stand watching boxing or the UFC, or even American football, or hockey – the amount of trauma the players inflict on each other is far too high.

          • NancyBoy

            Pussy.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              I am confused by two things: one that you find my personal objection to people injuring themselves and others for public entertainment something to be insulted, and that you think your choice of insult is inherently insulting.

              • Godless Monster

                I am also opposed to violence as entertainment. It’s disgusting. See, we do agree on something. :-)

            • timberwraith

              Pussy.

              Language like this comes from the notion that anything associated with women is weak and inferior, and thus, it is beneath men to be associated with anything related to women.

              And heaven forbid that a man violate pop culture’s notions of masculinity by showing empathy about the impact of violence on others. Apparently, caring for others’ well being is a sign of weakness and is a character flaw associated with womanly behavior.

              Speaking as a woman and an owner of said form of disfavored genitalia, fuck off, you misogynist asshole.

              • Godless Monster

                Well said. :-)

                • timberwraith

                  Thank you, Godless Monster.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Maybe if people came up with intelligent retorts they could avoid having their comments removed by the owner of the blog.

                  (obviously not directed at GM)

              • Bitchy McNasty Snatch

                Fuck you off you sour little miserable cunt.
                And fuck you Hemant for being such a censoring tool

      • timberwraith

        Also, I focused on this quote because it sounded so much like a 10 year old boy working through what masculinity means in the world. I wasn’t thinking much about the sports aspect of what he said.

        But again, thanks for the insight on the accuracy of his statement.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        That’s interesting. Peter Boghossian is also ‘into’ martial arts, and once had an MMA fighter as a guest. The skeptical aspect of it was how to evaluate to know if your techniques are actually useful in the real world. A lot of martial artists never really ‘try’ their techniques in anything resembling ‘the street’.

        My general memory was of some particular aspects of different arts being useful, in particular you have to have something that gives you a good ‘ground game’. But he didn’t get into MMA favoring a particular style.

        Wish I could find that video now, I’ll reply if my google skills improve.

        btw timberwaith, at least three times in the past you’ve alerted me that I’m pissing. After getting over my initial shock, I’ve appreciated it.

      • josh

        An experiment IS a controlled environment. UFC and similar promotions are of course money-making entertainments, but they are a lot closer to an experiment than most martial arts courses available have ever been subjected to. It isn’t every possible experiment, e.g. what works best for one guy versus multiple opponents, or one team vs. another, but it does do a lot to dispel the fantasies a lot of traditional martial arts are constructed around, both for one on one and multiple opponents.

        It’s not set up to favor BJJ, Gracie won the earliest tournaments when there were fewer rules. The Gracies don’t like some of the current rules, like 5 minute rounds and referees breaking up inactive holds, because they disfavor BJJ. Nonetheless, the level of competition is a lot higher today and the best competitors have a mixture of skills in boxing, muay thai style kicks and knees, western wresting for take downs and BJJ/catch-wrestling grappling.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          “An experiment IS a controlled environment.”

          I think you are missing my point. Harris claims that the UFC is set up to see which fighter is the best. In reality, there is no one answer to that question – it all depends on the environment and the goal. UFC fighting is two people of similar mass beating each other up with no weapons in one particular environment until one doesn’t fight any more.

          “It’s not set up to favor BJJ, Gracie won the earliest tournaments when there were fewer rules.”

          It _is_ set up to favor BJJ and similar styles. Consider the layout of the UFC ring. Smooth padded floors are better for take-downs and ground-fighting, and so the Gracies had an advantage over fighters who focused on striking. Later, UFC fighters started training in hybrid styles that included lots of take-downs and grappling as well as striking.

          • josh

            No. At least in the article linked Harris says the UFC is like an experiment to see who would win between a boxer, a karate expert, a wrestler etc. I agree, it is a sport with rules, those rules can affect the outcome. But the question was clearly never, ‘Who would win in a situation of total war?’ (Hint, its the guy with an ICBM.) or ‘Who would win if running away fastest counts as winning?’ It’s obviously along the lines of ‘If a boxer and a judoka fought, with a set of rules that don’t obviously restrict the skill set of one competitor, who would win?’ (I.e., no one is interested in who would win if a sumo and a karate expert compete in a sumo match.)

            Yes, situations make a difference but not all skill sets are equally applicable across all situations. This isn’t rock, paper scissors. Capoeira, for instance, is pretty damn useless except for appreciating Capoeira, which is perfectly fine if that’s your thing.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              “Yes, situations make a difference but not all skill sets are equally applicable across all situations.”

              True. But my point is that UFC fighters get hyped far beyond their actual skill sets. e.g. say you have a fight where your arms are shackled. Turns out Capoeira is far better than UFC styles for that.

              • josh

                Try doing a handstand or cartwheel in shackles. :) I’d still rather have someone who knows how to throw a solid kick and punch, keep their guard up, and handle themselves on the ground. (And just to be clear, I enjoy martial arts movies with all sorts of fanciful choreography. I just think that some people deceive themselves about the effectiveness of their favorite arts in ‘real world’ situations. This can happen with MMA too, since BJJ won’t keep you from getting brained in a bar fight from behind or stomped in an alley by a group, but I think it is, on the whole, more practical.)

              • Daniel_JM

                That might just be the most ridiculous post I’ve read today.

          • josh

            As for BJJ, I don’t know what you’re on about. Royce Gracie won the early tournaments when there were no weight classes. Those were instituted because we already know the answer to the question “Is it better to be bigger and stronger in a fight?” Smaller guys can win sometimes of course but on average it is a less interesting fight.

            The padding, such as it is, is there to limit injuries. Ground fighting techniques and takedowns become more effective if done on concrete, we don’t want people having their heads punched into harder surfaces. :) It’s not as though strikers traditionally practice or fight on uneven surfaces, or with obstacles, again those would tend to favor ground work since people would trip more and lose maneuverability. Pure BJJ certainly doesn’t dominate the modern sport of MMA, but it remains a crucial part of it.

          • Daniel_JM

            Padded floors are an advantage for strikers, not for bjj practitioners or wrestlers. Slamming a person on a hard floor is a good way to seriously hurt them, but the padded ring actually helps the person being taken down not experience as much damage. The person who is dominant on the ground is also more likely to be on top, and a hard floor helps them ground and pound the opponent who is on the bottom, instead of the floor absorbing some oif the force. (And someone below already pointed out, the cage actually helps strikers stand back up).

            I’m sorry but the above points, combined with your lack of understanding that there was no required gear, rounds, or weight classes in the early UFC, are a strong indication that you are criticizing something you don’t have a basic understanding of. I totally understand if you don’t like MMA and think it is barbaric, but at least please don’t invent a bunch of silly arguments against it.

      • Daniel_JM

        Michael, the early UFC was much different than MMA today. You should look up the rules for those early fights, which were virtually nonexistent, and it was in that context that BJJ proved to be superior to other single forms of self defense. The UFC added a bunch of rules to get sanctioned and overcome political controversy, but Harris is right about the early forms of the sport.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          Even the early UFC was a carefully limited environment: one-on-one fights in a particular arena with some techniques excluded.

          • Daniel_JM

            Yeah there were a few rules, but you are wrong about weight classes, extensive rules, rounds, etc being a part of the early UFC.

            Besides, it almost sounds like you think UFC fighters couldn’t use eye gouges and crotch shots in street fights but for some magical reason their opponent’s could. I know a lot of guys who do MMA and BJJ, and they crotch shot and quickly choke people out when someone tries to attack them in a bar or they see someone being assaulted. If anything knowing BJJ and MMA helps people win fights a lot more gently. It’s easy to use a choke to incapacitate someone without doing any lasting damage, which isn’t the case in a fist fight

      • Tait

        Lol, read the source material. Harris was referring to 1993 when the UFC started. When they were not matched in weight, could choose to wear gear or not, had very few disallowed techniques, had no round or time limitations and no referee…
        Its modern MMA that includes the restrictions you listed.

        As for your comment on modern MMA favoring BJJ, that’s so insanely ignorant. Please stop commenting on a sport that you admittedly cannot stomach to watch.

        What about rounds starting on the feet, favors BJJ? Or inactivity on the ground leading to a stand up? Or fighters not even having the option of wearing a BJJ gi? Or gloves that make grappling defence easier? What about that favors grapplers?

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          Note the other conditions of the UFC, which have been there since the beginning: one on one, closed arena, fight until you can’t fight any more. That favors styles that are good on take-downs and grappling, although striking is certainly still important. Perhaps I am being too general when I say “BJJ and similar styles” and include such things as current mixed martial arts training methods and Ancient Greek pankration in that ‘similar styles’ class.

          But it’s a comparison between styles like that and styles like, for example, aikido randori as my aikido teachers at Caltech did it – where the goal was to throw multiple attackers repeatedly out of the way and so be able to escape.

          • Tait

            Well, the cage is now more a detriment to wrestlers and grapplers than an advantage, as most any decent striking based MMA fighter uses it to get back to their feet, very effectively I might add.
            And well, these days there are rounds, time limits, standups, no gis, taped hands and wrists. And the padded floor. That helps out the people getting thrown, not the ones doing the throwing. There is an advantage or two for grapplers, but they are outweighed by the numerous advantages strikers are given.
            I get why you’re against MMA as a sport. I just see it from a different angle. My experience has been mostly with the people who train and want to compete, not the fans. They want to do it more than anything and they want to do it full time, which means they need to get paid. They are also ready and wiling to accept the consequences of their chosen profession. But to them, its hardly a choice at all. Anything else would be second best.
            There’s only one model anyone has come up with to make that a reality for them.

    • Godless Monster

      “This piece about Harris drips with the kind of macho posturing I’ve seen in insecure boys and men throughout my life.”

      Yes, it does but I still love Harris. For whatever reasons, he needs this stuff and he’s a good man. When I was young, dumb and full of #&*, I was a complete jackass. Some might argue that I still am, but the whole macho thing got old rather quickly for me once I was about 21-22 years old. By then I had learned that it is better to maintain a low profile and that the true test of manhood is surviving everyday life while treating others well. My two older kids turned out well and my experience with guns, or fighting or being able to “interview” shitbags well had no impact on that whatsoever. In fact, they could have become a detriment if I had let them. In the big scheme of things, what is most important? Playing G.I. Joe presents nowhere near the challenges or rewards that being a father does. Show me a good person who can truly love and care for others and I’ll show you a real man..or woman. :-)

  • timberwraith

    You know, the “guns hidden around the house” thing really bothered me. I don’t know how old his daughter is (according to Wikipedia, he has a daughter), but if she’s still living at home and still a kid, I don’t think numerous hidden guns is very judicious. Kids find hidden guns. Kids play with these guns. They and their friends sometimes get shot by errant play.

    Wouldn’t he be better off with a state of the art security system which alerts the police as soon as an alarm goes off? And an escape plan to a neighbor’s house? And a gun locker?

    I was an adolescent who grew up with free access to guns. Even though I was in my teens, I did incredibly foolish things with those guns. I could have shot someone by accident. I could have shot myself.

    So again, multiple hidden guns in the house?

    Really?

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      Maybe read the whole text, not just the bold? Your question about the daughter’s age was already answered there.

      I don’t disagree that it’s a bad idea to scatter guns through a home with children in it. I fully agree that it’s just a recipe for disaster.

      • timberwraith

        I quickly read the whole article at the Atlantic earlier today but forgot about the part that mentions his daughter.

        Four years old. I hope those guns are really well hidden and that he only takes them out of their hiding space when she’s not around.

        • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

          Ditto.

    • Pseudonym

      It’s a fallacy to play armchair psychologist with people you don’t know. I know this as much as anyone.

      Nonetheless, I can’t help thinking of his argument that liberal/moderate theists “provide cover for” crazy fundamentalists, and wonder if the gentleman doth protest too much. Even if he isn’t technically pro-torture, pro-nuclear, pro-gun, and pro-racist-profiling, the phrase “provide cover for” seems like a mild way of describing what he does.

      • timberwraith

        If you’re actually replying to this particular thread, I’m really confused about how I was playing psychologist.

        If you are replying to my comment upthread about atheists and pissing matches, I’ve watched enough of those interactions take place that I feel perfectly fine playing “armchair psychologist”. I don’t think it’s a fallacy to make an observation about behavior I’ve seen play out again and again in male dominated atheist discussions. Thus, I have no problem with speculating about Harris, either… but no doubt we’ll disagree.

        Given the level of social dysfunction I’ve witnessed, I’m happy to continue with these fallacies, as needed.

        • Pseudonym

          I wasn’t referring to you with that comment. Apologies if I gave the wrong impression.

          I was trying to head off the accusation that I was playing armchair psychologist in the next paragraph.

          • timberwraith

            Oh, got it. Sorry, about that Pseudonym.

  • Jim

    I don’t approve his stashing guns around the house. A child or house guest might inadvertently find one, which could lead to tragedy. My recommendation: house carry. Much safer for everyone, and quicker to access the weapon in the wee chance it might be needed.

    At least he isn’t a weak-kneed liberal who prefer to play victim. Unlike the vast majority of bloggers I’ve been reading in the atheosphere. Gun grabbers will never learn.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      “My recommendation: house carry. Much safer for everyone.”

      No. That is less safe. Look it up.

      • Jim

        I have looked it up, and couldn’t find anything that contradicts what I said. Try again gun grabber. :-)

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          The risk of firearms-related injuries from walking around your home carrying a loaded gun are far higher than if the gun is unloaded, broken down, and locked up. Owning well-secured guns is still associated with significantly higher risk of death or injury than not having a gun at all. You may pull up the CDC firearms safety research from the 1990s and later DoJ and privately-funded research in that regard.

          Also, neither randomly calling me a ‘gun grabber’ (whatever you mean by that) and nor appending a smiley after an apparent insult make me think highly of your words.

          • timberwraith

            Apparently, gun grabber is a term used for people who advocate gun control, or at least, that’s what Urban Dictionary implies.

            Yes, I too agree that carrying a loaded gun in the house is not the greatest idea.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              Strange, since none of the serious gun control proposals actually involve grabbing guns. The most extensive ones are “you can’t buy any more of these types of guns” and “you turn over your gun and are paid its entire value in cash”.

      • Godless Monster

        It seems that the numbers don’t exist to back us up on this, but I’m opposed to home carry if there are very small children present. Better to have quick access electronic safes…for me. That’s just my personal preference. I carry in an OWB holster, however, which would be “open carry” since I don’t walk around with a jacket on inside my home. Also, there would be nothing as uncomfortable or nerve-wracking for me as dealing with a struggling 13 month old while carrying a firearm in my waistband or pocket. Ugh…no thanks!

    • Godless Monster

      I stopped house carry after my latest son was born. I think it was a good call as he is extremely active and likes to grab things. He’s also a strong little bugger and I can easily see him grabbing my weapon out of my holster. I don’t carry an IWB holster or pocket holster because they just don’t work for me.

      When I had my kids from my first marriage, I sold all but one of my firearms and that was stored where they could never gain access to it. Toy guns were not allowed in the home and anything involving violence was strongly discouraged. They never knew I was ex-Navy and never even knew I owned a firearm until after they started college. I was long gone by then. They are 24 and 21 now.
      They are both pacifists and yet are not opposed to the ownership of firearms. Neither of them are (or ever will be) gun nuts, but my daughter has recently taken an interest and after a crash course from me she’s now a crack shot with my HK93. :-)
      I’m always in fear of kids getting ahold of dangerous things in my home, not just guns….call me paranoid…

  • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

    Mortal combat, lol.

  • Sam Harris

    I don’t usually subject myself to this sort of punishment, but I actually read this entire thread. I’ll just make one observation: Only Godless Monster understands what I’m doing or why I’m doing it.
    Best, Sam

    • Atheist for human rights

      Don’t the crystal balls you play with understand why you are doing it as well? Or is that not what mystics use? Lol.

      And it is bizarre and extremely dense that someone who is such a proponent of torture would say reading through a comment section on a blog is punishment. Neo-cons like you don’t know what punishment is.

      • Godless Monster

        Looks like someone has maturity, anger and self-esteem issues.

        • Atheist for human rights

          Which is why I’m a middle aged man taking martial arts and stashing guns around my house. Oh wait…

          • Godless Monster

            How does this promote your viewpoint? Maybe you really do have something to add to the conversation, but we’ll never know if you continue to act like a petulant child.

            • Atheist for human rights

              At least I don’t believe in silly things like mysticism and the paranormal and I respect human rights.

    • Atheist for human rights

      Oh and you are more likely to get shot in an assault if you have a gun on you according to a 2009 UPENN study.

      Guns give you the illusion of safety, but make you demonstrably more unsafe. And that’s not opinion, that’s science.

      • Godless Monster

        That’s not science, that’s interpreting figures in such a way as to favor a particular point of view. You are more likely to die in a car accident if you drive a car. And???? Guns in fact CAN give some people the illusion of safety, but that only means there is a problem with the people carrying or owning firearms and/or the training of those people. There are far too many firearms in the hands of the public to be able to come up with a solution to ban or confiscate them. We need to work together to come up with reasonable, workable solutions to live with them. The U.S. Senate just had an opportunity to take a step in that direction, but failed due to the lies of the NRA. This isn’t a back or white issue.

        • Atheist for human rights

          Nope that is the conclusion the study made. When you ignore science you know youve lost:

          • Godless Monster

            Again…NO…that is NOT science. You may want to get educated on what science is and how it works, because you are not even close to having an understanding of it. As an atheist, you might want to make that a priority. Otherwise, you’ll just continue to look foolish and we wouldn’t want that, now would we?.

            • Atheist for human rights

              Actually I have multiple scientific degrees and have participated in scientific research. The way science works is you cite papers that show a causal link with what you are saying which I did (2009 upenn study in the ajph) and you haven’t.

        • Godless Monster

          typo – should be” black or white issue”…


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