The Question of Contact

Can personal experience ever be used to justifiably override scientific evidence or argument?

Coming Home From War and Metallica’s “Confusion”

Though mercifully few of us have PTSD or have done a tour of duty in a combat zone, we have all been scarred. Life is a return from battle.

On Sequels & Reboots: Defending The Force Awakens

Is the plot of The Force Awakens just a rehash of the old films? Absolutely not. But appreciating that it's not only a sequel, but a reboot, can help you enjoy the similarities.

Star Wars: Answering the Big Questions

Who are Rey’s parents? Why exactly did Luke go into hiding? Who is Supreme Leader Snoke? What’s the deal with Kylo’s lightsaber? Careful reasoning might reveal the answer.

Watching Star Wars the Right Way

In what order should you watch the original saga? Release order? Episode order? Or an entirely different order altogether? And what all should you catch up on? The Clone Wars cartoon? The Zahn Novels (a.k.a. The Thrawn Trilogy)? The Holiday Special? What counts as canon?

It’s Tax Day

Imagine how people would wince and complain if they had to write a weekly, monthly, or yearly check for the full amount due in taxes. Can you feel the pain of those of us who hold on to the money we have earned for nearly three months before paying part of it in quarterly estimated taxes?

What I Would Like to Like, but Don't Like

There are lots of bands, books, shows, and movies that I unapologetically dislike. But then there are those I don’t like or dislike. I would like to like them, but I don’t. Is this category revealing of likes more honest and revealing?

Why I Believe in Bigfoot

No, I don’t believe THAT Bigfoot exists. I just believe it is possible. What’s more, I believe IN Bigfoot. I believe IN Bigfoot the way I would believe IN a friend’s innocence even if I didn’t believe THAT he was innocent. I believe IN Bigfoot precisely because I don’t believe IN much else.

Transcendence with The Boys in the Boat

Being part of something greater than ourselves not only displaces suffering but lifts us up, giving an exultant sense of purpose.

Does Santa Exist? A Review

Hollywood writer Eric Kaplan, known for his work on "The Big Bang Theory," has a book that (it's been said) uses philosophy to hilariously examine the question of Santa's existence. Unfortunately, it's ultimately just a thinly veiled attempt to argue for God's existence and his variety of Jewish Mysticism.

Interstellar, Causal Loops, and Saving Humanity

Interstellar is Nolan's latest. Many have tired to poke holes in the film, but I argue that philosophy can help us avoid some of the most troubling.
How to Be Happy with Adam Smith

How to Be Happy with Adam Smith

Perhaps surprisingly, Adam Smith does not recommend the pursuit of fame and fortune. Instead, he says that we naturally desire to be loved and to be lovely. Happiness requires being worthy of respect and esteem.
Unbroken Hope

Unbroken Hope

Louis Zamperini, the Olympic runner who was brutalized as a prisoner of war in Japan, teaches us the importance of hope in hopeless situations.

Transcending the Criticisms of Transcendence

The critics lampooned Transcendence as just another movie about the idea that technology and computers are dangerous. But, it turns out, it’s a movie about just how dangerous that idea is.
How to Be 1 Percent Happier

How to Be 1 Percent Happier

Listening to happy songs in the morning has made me 1 percent happier. Try it. Your results may vary.

Loathe Thy Neighbor?

Loathing is closely tied to feelings of disgust or annoyance, and it does not necessarily involve resentment. Additionally, loathing seems to be triggered by direct stimulation whereas hatred can persist without direct stimulation. There’s a subjective and irrational element to loathing. So what’s the solution? Tolerance? Loathe and let loathe?
How to Be 10% Happier

How to Be 10% Happier

Essentially what meditation delivers is the ability to respond rather than react. It provides a fraction of a second delay, just enough time to reconsider whether I really want to do or say what the voice in my head is urging. It’s the mental equivalent of the seven-second delay that awards shows use to guard against profanity-laced rants by Kanye West and his ilk.
The Triple Package and Nietzsche

The Triple Package and Nietzsche

Chua and Rubenfeld argue that a triple-package culture, characterized by a superiority complex, a sense of insecurity, and impulse control, leads to success. That may be, but Nietzsche shows us that it's an even better explanation of individual success.
Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Russian Roulette of Relapse

Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Russian Roulette of Relapse

When Mr. Hoffman took heroin for the first time in 23 years he was, in effect, playing Russian roulette. No amount of time away from the addictive substance is enough to erase the addiction. Addiction can be treated but it cannot be cured. It’s not okay to have a relapse, but if you have a relapse it’s okay to come back into recovery.
The Super Bowl, Atheists, and Divine Intervention in Sports

The Super Bowl, Atheists, and Divine Intervention in Sports

American Atheists erected an "anti-prayer" billboard adjacent to this year's Super Bowl stadium. Will this dissuade the half of Americans who believe that the supernatural plays a roll in determining the outcome of sporting events, like the Super Bowl? Should Christians themselves be criticizing the idea that God plays a roll in determining the outcome of sporting events?

In Praise of Snake Handling

Snake handlers are following verses that were not in the original version of the Gospel of Mark. Scholars reason that Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances were added in Mark 16: 9-20 because second-century scribes were uncomfortable with the Gospel ending without them. But I say that kind of discomfort is good for faith because it introduces an element of the absurd.

Sorry Megyn, Santa Claus Is Not White

“Santa just is white" said Fox News' Megyn Kelly, and all hell broke lose. But what she right? Since Santa is not real, this turns out to be a philosophical question--and it's not one that is easy to answer.

The Santa Claus Lie Debate: Answering Objections

'Tis the season...for my inbox to fill up with hate mail regarding my stance on whether or not parents should tell the Santa Claus lie. Let's deal with the most common objections.

Who Is The War Doctor? Part Two (Renumbering the Doctors)

The 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who raises serious questions. Do we now have to renumber the doctors? Yes, in fact, we do. Despite what Steven Moffat says, John Hurt is the 9th doctor.

Who Is The War Doctor? Part One

John Hurt is playing "The War Doctor" in the upcoming 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who, “The Day of the Doctor.” But who is The War Doctor? Is he the Doctor? And if not, who might he be instead?

Black Sabbath, Shakespeare, and Existentialism

Black Sabbath and philosophy are the best combination since peanut butter and chocolate. When Ozzy wails “dying is easy it’s living that’s hard” over Iommi’s surreal, bluesy riff you know it’s true. And you know in a flash what existentialism is in a way you never could by reading Sartre.

"Now You See Me" and Belief in Magic

When it comes to the new movie "Now You See Me", the closer you look, the less you'll see.

How to Celebrate the Life of Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman

A fitting tribute to the life of Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman would be to not have a drink in his memory.

The Ethics of Star Trek: Into Darkness

In Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Enterprise crew struggles to decide what is morally right and wrong. How can philosophy shed light on their questions, and the moral questions that we face in our own lives?

Scott Joplin, the King of Rags

Joplin saw himself as a classical musician in the tradition of Chopin and Wagner. But he was also an African-American, the son of a slave. That meant that no one else saw him the way he saw himself.