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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 to my argument that parents should not encourage their children to believe that Santa Claus literally exists.

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.

What Does Black Sabbath Mean by “God Is Dead?"

Black Sabbath’s new song “God is Dead?” raises the problem of evil in contemplating the murder of a pedophile priest. How can there be a God when there is such evil in the world?

Tarantino, Django Unchained and Gun Violence

Do violent movies make society violent, or do violent societies make violent movies?

Let’s Bench The Elf on the Shelf

The Elf on the Shelf is Santa's newest helper. Is he simply harmless fun, or is there reason for real concern?

Say Goodbye to the Santa Claus Lie

Most parents feel a bit guilty for lying to their children for about Santa Claus. But most find solace in the idea that belief in Santa Claus encourages imagination in children. It doesn't. In fact, it discourages.

Why the World Won’t End, In Seven Easy Steps

Just in case you have someone in your life that is still worried the world might end on December 21, 2012, here are seven ways to make short work of putting them in their place.

Turn it up to 11 and Celebrate Metal Day

No other genre of popular music inspires the level of devotion that heavy metal does. And there’s a reason for that. Metal isn’t just music. For many fans it’s a religion, a way of life, a philosophy, if you will.

Black Sabbath and the Secret of Scary Music

The secret of Black Sabbath’s sound is the tritone, also known as the Devil’s Interval or diabolus in musica. But musical convention may have more to do with the sonic effect than anything Satan could claim credit for.

A Missing Ingredient in Sabbath’s Creative Stew

Black Sabbath illustrates that when it comes to creativity, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. The band needs to come to terms with their unorthodox drummer or fans will taste something essential missing from Sabbath’s stew.

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