Oh, man, bad idea. Really bad idea.
Sam Harris has issued a challenge. Shades of the Randi challenge, right? Only Harris’s is rather different.
It has been nearly three years since The Moral Landscape was first published in English, and in that time it has been attacked by readers and nonreaders alike. Many seem to have judged from the resulting cacophony that the book’s central thesis was easily refuted. However, I have yet to encounter a substantial criticism that I feel was not adequately answered in the book itself (and in subsequent talks).
So I would like to issue a public challenge. Anyone who believes that my case for a scientific understanding of morality is mistaken is invited to prove it in 1,000 words or less. (You must refute the central argument of the book—not peripheral issues.) The best response will be published on this website, and its author will receive $1000. If any essay actually persuades me, however, its author will receive $10,000, and I will publicly recant my view.
What a display of vanity.
He’s so clever and so right that he’ll give you TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS if you can persuade him he’s not right. He might as well have made it a billion.
I sent Patricia Churchland a Facebook DM suggesting she collect an easy ten grand. I don’t suppose she’ll bother, though.
Update: it’s now $2000 for the best response and $20,000 for the potential persuader, because a “generous reader” (aka besotted fan) matched his prize.