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Join neuroscientist, philosopher, and best-selling author Sam Harris as he explores important and controversial questions about the human mind, society, and current events. The Making Sense podcast was selected by Apple as one of iTunes Best of 2015.

Harris is the author of the best-selling books The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free WillLying, and Waking Up—along with Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue (with Maajid Nawaz). The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. His writing and public lectures cover a wide range of topics—neuroscience, moral philosophy, religion, meditation practice, human violence, rationality—but generally focus on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live.

Harris’s work has been published in more than 20 languages and has been discussed in The New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. He has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Annals of Neurology, and elsewhere.

Sam Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.

Sam Harris's blog and podcast, and much more, can be found at


May 26, 2023

In this episode, we explore Sam’s conversations about the phenomenon of death.

We begin with an introduction from Sam as he urges us to use our awareness of death to become more present in our day-to-day lives. We then hear a conversation between Sam and Frank Ostaseski, founder of the Zen Hospice Project, who shares the valuable lessons he has learned through caring for those in their very last days. Next, we move on to a conversation with Scott Barry Kaufman, who explains what it means to pursue a good life by putting a modern spin on Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs.

Researcher and professor of neuroscience Roland Griffiths then details his findings on psychedelic therapies. He and Sam discuss the inexplicable powers of psychedelics in easing the anxiety around death, and how these experiences can potentially help us live fuller lives. Shifting perspectives, we move on by hearing NYU professor Scott Galloway explain the social and economic impacts of a society made painfully aware of death by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We then listen in to author Oliver Burkeman as he outlines how the knowledge of our mortality can inform practical time management techniques before addressing an age-old question with physicist Geoffrey West: Theoretically, could we engineer humans to live forever?

Sam closes this episode with a solo talk, explaining that we needn’t be cynical about the fact that all life must come to an end. Instead, it is the transient nature of life that might be the very thing which makes it beautiful in the first place.


About the Series

Filmmaker Jay Shapiro has produced The Essential Sam Harris, a new series of audio documentaries exploring the major topics that Sam has focused on over the course of his career.

Each episode weaves together original analysis, critical perspective, and novel thought experiments with some of the most compelling exchanges from the Making Sense archive. Whether you are new to a particular topic, or think you have your mind made up about it, we think you’ll find this series fascinating.