I am building a nonprofit dedicated to cognitive immunology research. This think-tank will: (1) find new ways to strengthen mental immune systems, (2) promote educational practices that build mental immunity, and (3) advocate for policies that prevent outbreaks of mass irrationality. Project leaders are currently seeking backing; we welcome inquiries from potential partners. (FAQ)
The concept of critical thinking is not doing enough to prevent the spread of bad ideas. In fact, the critical thinking paradigm is all but obsolete, as I show in Mental Immunity. This project will use the findings of cognitive immunology to overhaul critical thinking instruction. If you understand the importance of this initiative and want to help make it happen, reach out! (FAQ)
I worked with students inspired by my "How to Play the Reason-Giving Game" (see below), to design and build this online learning game. Meet the great philosophers, challenge their reasoning, and master the art of critical thinking! Downloaded over 500,000 times.
I founded and built this ultimate frisbee-themed summer camp for kids. In it, thousands of Pittsburgh kids have learned the importance of teamwork and fair play—all while playing one of the coolest games around!
This infographic conveys the fundamental insights of an ethics firmly rooted in this world. It explains how we can think like scientists about morality. In fact, genuine sciences of right and wrong are emerging, and they promise to propel moral progress. Published in Skeptic magazine.
This simple model lays out the basic "rules" of reason-giving dialogue in a mere two pages. Useful for teaching critical thinking, it also became the inspiration for Socrates Jones: Pro Philosopher.
In her NYT bestselling novel The Mind-Body Problem, philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein floated the idea of "mapping" what matters to us. Decades later, she and I published the basic principles of mattering theory in a symposium for FREE INQUIRY magazine.
This fabulous interactive graphic novel is designed to provoke reflection on the role bystanders can play in deterring sexual assault on college campuses. It was built by the students of Morality Play, a course I taught at Carnegie Mellon University. The university uses it to help new students understand what they can do to help create a safe campus.
This infographic shows that the central tenets of humanism add up to a coherent, evidence-based answer to the question "What really matters and why?" Published in The Humanist magazine with an essay (“Getting Humanism Right-Side Up”) that reframes what humanism is fundamentally about.
For years, I've been nurturing a values-based community of student freethinkers at Carnegie Mellon University. The group exists to explore life's big questions, bridge humanity's differences, and promote dialogue over dogma. I'm proud to be their faculty advisor!
I'm proud to serve on the board of this wonderful nonprofit, one that helps people understand how propaganda short-circuits the mind's capacity to reason clearly and capably.
This series of essays for The Humanist magazine explore the philosophical foundations of humanism. Among them: "Transcending Sects (But Not Sex!): Humanism as Anti-Tribalism" and "The Cowboy, the Lesbian, and the Humanist."
I was happy to participate in the Evolution Institute's symposium on Universal Morality. Turns out there is a reasonably objective view about what matters: the view that emerges from reasoning responsibly about the facts, together with the moral axiom "Creaturely wellbeing matters."
What is a "basic" belief, and how do responsible thinkers treat the claims they take to be basic? In this analysis of the concept for the Royal Institute of Philosophy's journal THINK, I show how to prevent the concept of basic belief from becoming a general-purpose excuse for accepting things uncritically.
In this addendum to my Free Inquiry exchange with Rebecca Goldstein, I show that the moral axiom "Creaturely wellbeing matters" converts the facts about the world into a rich, reality-based moral system.
Can a better understanding of the norms of dialogue help us resolve conflicts more effectively? What would a "logic" of resolution-oriented dialogue look like? In this scholarly paper, I sketch the rules of a reasoning "game" that clarifies our rights and responsibilities as participants in dialogue.
In this re-interpretation of the philosophy of humanism, I argue that it has a hidden unity and coherence. At its heart lies a commitment to honest mattering. The idea that we should be radically honest and reality-based about what matters sets humanism apart from its cultural (primarily religious) competitors. It also explains how the various tenets of humanism hang together.
In the early 2000's, I founded and built the software company Knosis, LLC. Knosis developed Theseus, an innovative software package for teaching and applying critical thinking skills. The software taught users how to diagram arguments and identify their flaws. It came with a critical thinking textbook I authored. I sold Knosis in 2007.
This infographic captures the hidden logic behind Hobbes' Leviathan. In a single page, it illuminates how civil society can evolve from a purely selfish state of nature. If you want to understand the conditions that allow cooperation to flourish, study this one-page diagram!
I was once a pretty decent ultimate player. In the waning years of a lackluster career, my team—Iron City Ultimate—had a couple of good runs at a national championship in the Masters and Grandmasters divisions of the sport. Good times and indelible memories!
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