I didn't know much about Sam Harris before reading about him in these recent posts. I've only listened to an hour of the 2 1/2 hour podcast. I couldn't get through much more of it. This interview has given me a bad taste for Sam Harris.
Right at the beginning of the podcast, he mentions that he gave some false information about a group he labels a cult. He says that he's mentioning the mistake in this podcast because there isn't a good place to announce these mistakes.
There are better places than an unrelated podcast to correct false information. A better place would be either in the original podcast or in the post where the podcast originates. If he wants to announce the retraction in the next podcast, that might make some sense. Placing the retraction where no one would think to look for it isn't very aboveboard. In his retraction, he gave the sense the the misinformation was somehow less important because the wrong fact was about one "cult" instead of another. Misinformation is misinformation. It doesn't really matter if the misinformation is misplaced from another group he doesn't like.
The bigger issue for me was his blaming his audience for how he expressed his views. Weinstein asked him why he doesn't do a better job of expressing his appreciation for religious culture, even on a secular level. He says that he's aware that his audience wouldn't appreciate and understand about Rumi and meditation and that he has an empathy for that segment of his audience. If he's pandering to an audience, trying to express his views based on what he thinks they want, it's not a very genuine expression. His audience will then be based on people who are attracted to what he thinks his audience wants. He seems to think his audience is anti-theist and writes accordingly. If he wrote openly about his appreciation for some of the aspects of religion, his audience might shift in composition.
I agree with Weinstein's position that Harris' view of the religious literalists is itself very literalist.
I stopped listening when Harris talks about creating a better religion than currently exists by removing the misogynist and homophobic aspects of the current religions. I didn't get his entire point, but that's really short-sighted. Creating a new religion will just take into account the current ethics. In 50-100 years, the religion will be outdated again, then it's just a shifting ethical piece. In a few decades, there might be a shift in the cultural view of how animals are treated, how criminals are treated and how the mentally ill are treated, just as examples. If that happens the current religious piece will be criticized again.
When Harris claims that Judaism doesn't really count because their views on religion don't line up with his criticism of religion, I wanted my hour back that I spent listening. Religion and religious criticism interests me. I'm not as interested in anti-theism.