What is a James Alan?

Most of the time I call myself a magician: I perform and I entertain people. Before that I studied math at the University of Toronto. The way those two skillsets overlap in my own brain mean that I spend an awful lot of time thinking about thinking.

On stage I’m serious about people not taking me seriously. I’m honest and up front and tell audiences that my job is “to convince you of things which are not true.” The smarter you are, the less likely you are to trust a word I say. So this is the place where I come when I want to be taken seriously and talk about grownup things that matter — at least things that matter to me. 

What is a Hidden Thought?

We think without realizing that we’re thinking. We believe things without knowing how we came to believe them. Our brains run huge parts of our lives for us without us realizing it. Usually that’s a good thing: I would forget to breathe if I didn’t have a brain doing it for me.

But how we figure out what’s true and whether we’re any good at it or not matters a lot. So this blog is a place for thinking and for finding better ways of figuring things out. Whether that means working with our brains or against them.


I am an unapologetic, out-of-the-closet atheist, anti-theist, skeptic, naturalist, rationalist, empiricist. I want to live my life believing as many true things and as few false things as possible. If I think someone is wrong about something, I’m not afraid to tell them. Being factually incorrect about something doesn’t immediately imply that you’re a bad person. But without the ability to have an honest conversation about it, we can’t expect to get very far.