How to Check Your Privilege in 5 Excruciating Steps


Recently, I changed my mind. Challenged over my uncritical reposting of a secular argument against abortion, I was forced to examine my assumptions, reflect on my identity, and consider how my actions might look from a different vantage point – in other words, I “checked my privilege”. The exhortation to “check your privilege” is common in [Read More...]

On the Privilege of Discussing Abortion

In April 2012 I was asked by a Secular Student Alliance affiliate to represent the pro-choice side in a debate on the morality of abortion at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. I was wary to accept. As a gay man, I reasoned I was less likely than most to be intimately affected by a [Read More...]

Cosmos – Epistemic, Existential, Ethical, and Aesthetic


My bio as a Humanist speaker ends with the words “James was raised on Shakespeare, Sagan, and Star Trek” - and it’s true. When I discovered the works, words, and worlds of Carl Sagan, my world flew open. I’ve written about his unique approach to science, Humanism, and the big questions of life, and I’ve spoken [Read More...]

A Humanist Conception of Evil

“Evil” the most powerful term of moral condemnation. Worse than “wrong”, “bad”, or even “wicked”, saying something – an act or an individual – is “evil” is the most forceful negative evaluation we have access to in the ethical sphere. The word carries connotations which makes some atheists and Humanists concerned. Some worry that it [Read More...]

The Freethinkers’ Political Textbook – Distinguishing the Epistemic and the Persuasive


The Freethinkers’ Political Textbook is a guide to evidence-based activism for atheists, agnostics, Humanists, and all freethinkers, designed to help us communicate better. Current posts in the series include: The Freethinkers’ Political Textbook – Evidence-Based Atheist Activism Go for the Gut – On the role of emotion in persuasion Framing for Freethinkers - Introducing Lakoff’s concept of [Read More...]

Dan Savage: I’m Not One to Judge


I like Dan Savage. I like him a lot. I think his podcast is extremely funny, his writing  witty and deft, and I think the It Gets Better Project – despite its problems – was a stroke of genius. When he speaks to people during his podcast, or during a live show, there is so often the [Read More...]

Sort of Like “Camp Quest” for Grownups – Adventures in Humanist Community!


Edit: I’ve been asked to make clear that the reference to “Camp Quest” in the title of this post was metaphorical – this retreat is sponsored by the American Humanist Association and the American Ethical Union, not Camp Quest. Ever wanted to spend a week in a mountain lodge, ziplining and hiking in-between rousing discussions of freethought, Humanism, [Read More...]