Check this page for videos of my talks and for information about requesting me as a speaker for your group. For a schedule of upcoming talks, see Coming Events. To hear my media interviews, click here.
At present I have prepared two talks. One of these, The Illusion of God's Presence, conveys an impression of the book as a whole. The content changes a bit each time I give it, depending on time allotted and current events. You can see two different versions online via the links below. The other talk is Narcissism Broke Our Democracy. Can Science and Math Fix It? I first gave this talk (using a different title) in March of 2021 for the AHA Freethought Festival in Madison, WI. Below you will find a link to my second presentation of this for the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara.
I am working on other talks, including one that will introduce my new book to be published in October of 2022. Check this page over the coming months, as the list will probably grow.
To request me as a speaker, please use the Contact page. I am happy to speak on the subjects listed here (and others soon to be added) to any interested group, secular or religious, academic or general public. I am less happy about debating but will consider it if asked. I will gladly speak to chapters of the Secular Student Alliance anywhere, and I will forego any travel reimbursement for chapters in San Diego county.
My list of talks follows, with video links where available.
Narcissism Broke Our Democracy. Can Science and Math Fix It? 16 October 2021, Humanist Society of Santa Barbara. (via Zoom, 46 min; Q&A 21 min)
Democracy is about people governing themselves by expressing their collective will in elections. But what happens when their votes are driven more by intuition and passion than by reason? And what if the electoral system responds more to extremist minorities than to the will of the majority? In this talk I examine the role of narcissism in the passions that lead us astray in the voting booth. The bad news is that this problem has deep roots in human nature, so it will always be with us. The good news, however, is that the wisdom of crowds often works out well anyway, but only if our elections truly reflect the will of the majority. Surprisingly, science and math have a lot to say about that.
The Illusion of God's Presence 10 February 2018, LogiCAL-LA, Los Angeles. (40 min; Q&A 6 min)
This is an overview of the central thesis of my book, similar to my talk at the Center for Inquiry (below), but with more emphasis on the strange puzzles of religion that my hypothesis can explain. Why is God two-faced: both judgmental and unconditionally loving? Why are women more religious than men? Why do seven percent of members of the National Academy of Sciences believe in a personal god who answers prayer? Using examples from visual illusions, behavioral biology, and neuroscience, I offer an explanation in terms of a cognitively impenetrable illusion, one that science has largely overlooked.
The Illusion of God's Presence 15 January 2017, Center for Inquiry, Los Angeles. (55 min; Q&A 23 min)
Science has only begun to make sense of religion’s powerful grip on the human mind, a grip that can even hold some of the most brilliant of scientific minds. Why do seven percent of members of the National Academy of Sciences believe in a personal god who answers prayer? The question is important because it probes the most irresistible essence of the appeal of religious and spiritual thinking. Using examples from visual illusions, behavioral biology, and neuroscience, I offer an explanation in terms of a cognitively impenetrable illusion, one that science has largely overlooked.