Challenging the Gluten-Free Movement

The gluten-free movement is rising. According to a 2013 consumer survey, over 70 million American adults are trying to eat less gluten, a grain-based protein. That’s a 20% boost in recruits since 2010. By 2016, sales of gluten-free foods could hit $15 billion, a 40% increase over 2013. Yet only an estimated 2o million Americans …

Twisting the Family Tree

Opponents of same-sex marriage sometimes raise the specter of legalized incest. For example, in the federal court ruling that upheld Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban, Judge Martin Feldman writes: [M]ust the states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother/brother? Father and child? In a brief to the U.S. Supreme …

Podcast: Defining Free Will

This week, I returned to Atheistically Speaking to discuss free will. Back in June, Thomas and I had a good chat about moral philosophy and The Moral Landscape. Earlier in July, Thomas aired two episodes on free will, AS49 and AS50. He shared his thoughts on an exchange between Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett. Dennett …

Evil in All Its Forms

The U.S. Supreme Court expanded exemptions to a federal mandate that requires employer health plans to cover birth control. The mandate already exempts churches and lets other non-profits file for a “religious accommodation.” The Hobby Lobby decision lets for-profit employers file, too. The Wheaton College ruling lets Wheaton, a Christian non-profit, skip filing the accommodation form—EBSA …

Facebook’s Emotion Experiment & Informed Consent

For seven days in January 2012, roughly 689,000 Facebook users unknowingly took part in an “emotional contagion” study. Facebook reduced the percentage of positive posts, negative posts, or both in select news feeds. A comparison group had posts omitted from their feeds at random. Reducing negative posts led users to give status updates with fewer …

Podcast: Moral Philosophy & The Moral Landscape

Thomas Smith, host of the podcast Atheistically Speaking, had me on to talk about moral philosophy and Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape. Previous guests of the program include philosopher Massimo Pigliucci, a critic of Harris. Thomas is a supporter of Harris’s scientific theory of morality. He and I had a friendly and fruitful discussion that …

The Fight for Moral Truth

In my essay for Sam Harris’s Moral Landscape Challenge, I assumed that serious competing theories of morality and value exist. Sam rejects this assumption. He contends that the only serious ethical theory is the one he accepts—consequentialism (explained after the jump). Sam also rejects my assumption that ethics must be prescriptive. He says an ethical …

Science, Philosophy, & Reality

Sam Harris has published his response to my winning essay in the Moral Landscape Challenge. I’d like to thank Sam for issuing the challenge and replying to my essay. I’d also like to thank Russell Blackford for all his hard work as contest judge. In my essay, I say that Sam has “not brought questions …

The Courage of One’s Convictions Corrections

Psychologists have raised doubts about whether we can reliably reason our way to true beliefs. Numerous studies suggest we’re prone to “motivated reasoning.” We sometimes argue against the facts due to unconscious goals that don’t aim at the truth. The New Yorker and Vox interviewed Brendan Nyhan and Dan Kahan, respectively, two researchers who study …