The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

★★★★☆

This book was a much more difficult read than his earlier books Letter and End of Faith. Rather than a popular, NYT best seller list-type book, this seems to target a more scientific audience. It should be studied rather than simply read. Moral Landscape is a very technical book both in terms of philosophy and neuroscience. Chapter 1, the introduction of the moral landscape concept, and Chapter 4, the teardown of religion and Francis Collins in particular, are the most accessible parts of the book. In between are some seriously academic chapters. It is all very interesting, however I wish he would have kept the academics in the endnotes to make the book flow more for non-technical readers. Unfortunately the endnotes are a mix of academic references and some good commentary, which turns things into a bit of a slog. That said, it is an amazingly ambitious book that could change the relationship between modern science and ethics, and well worth the read. To get a taste of the controversy, check out the TED talk (and resulting commentary) that made me pre-order the book right away.

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

End of Movember

Forgot to post the follow-up (wrt) here:

At the stroke of midnight tonight I shaved off my pledge moustache for Movember. I was able to garner a few hundred dollars in donations from my generous friends for research into prostate cancer. Thanks to you all who donated and participated! See you again next year!

Coming out

My New Year’s resolution for 2011 is to be more public on the web. Thus I am changing all my usernames and identities from to reflect my real name.

I have been thinking about this for some time now, but have held off for two reasons: naming and timing. My full name (Chad Kohalyk) is far too long and difficult to remember, so I wanted a short, easy username. “chadk” is taken on every social network already. A friend advised that I make the “k” silent, but alas “kchad” is also gone. “chado” and various other Japanese permutations of my name are all long gone. A few months ago I thought I would go with “chadko”, but the just a couple of weeks ago that was taken too! This leads me into my next point: timing.

Short usernames, especially ones based on real names, have all basically dried up. I wanted to switch usernames for New Year’s but speed is imperative. Furthermore, with all the holiday traffic I think the announcement would get lost. People who do not follow my every post might not realize who I am (or who I’ve become). So I thought I would make the change during the run up to the holidays.

Years ago, when I first became active on the web, privacy was a concern for my future. I was still a student, and didn’t want to spoil a reputation I didn’t have yet. There were worries about lost job prospects. Nearly a decade later I sort of regret not putting my real name on all the content I have produced over the years. True, anonymity is a good substitute for bravery. I might not have done what I did if I didn’t have that warm, comforting protection. However, over the years I have come to think that the cost to my personal brand is too high. So, starting now, I am going to be braver.

You can find me online at: