If you’d like to invite me to speak, please use my contact page. I’m always tailor my talks to suit audiences, but if you’d like a sense of what I’m generally speaking on right now, here is a sample:
The Excesses of Our Successes: Challenges to free speech and open inquiry have become everyday affairs on American college and university campuses. This lecture considers the good as well as the troubling reasons we are seeing this bloom of dissent, the historical roots of our present distress, and the toll it is now taking on individual psyches as well as institutions. The speaker will provide ideas about what we can do to try to make this scene less dangerous and painful.
Why You Should Not Cancel People: In Galileo’s Middle Finger, I traced out the prehistory of the phenomenon we now call “Cancel Culture.” As a consequence, I have met, studied, interviewed, and counseled many individuals who have experienced “cancellation.” This talk explores the history and nature of today’s attacks on individuals and explains what is at stake. It also considers how we can address speech we find repulsive in a more productive and humane fashion – and do so even in a world where social media corporations encourage us to reach for pitchforks and torches (because that profits them).
Cultivating the Value of Disloyalty: In human life, loyalty is generally considered a core moral value. That’s in part because loyalty to one’s tribe promotes individual courage in the face of a threat to the group. But loyalty has its downsides where ethics are concerned, particularly in our contemporary world. Most significantly, loyalty can blind us to the need to call out foolishness, cruelty, and injustice. This talk explores the literal (evolved) nature of mammalian loyalty along with the reasons we should cultivate the value of disloyalty. The lecture provides examples from my own work and concludes with specific ideas about how we can go about that cultivation.
The Importance of Local News to Free Speech: In 2014, I founded a local nonprofit, factual news service for the people of East Lansing, Michigan. Eight years later, this talk reflects on what I’ve learned through that work about the critical importance of local news to core American rights named in the First Amendment beyond the freedom of the press, particularly the freedom to speak, to protest, and to raise objections to the government without fear of reprisal.
If you’re planning an engagement, please consider seeking joint sponsorships. This widens the audience and the conversation.
I apologize in advance that I am not able to accept every invitation I receive.