The Moral Landscape Challenge

Official Rules


The Moral Landscape Challenge Essay Contest (the “Contest”) starts on February 2, 2014 at 12:01 AM Pacific Standard Time (“PST”) and ends on February 9, 2014 at 11:59 PM PST (“Contest Period”).

INELIGIBILITY: The Contest is not open to residents of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Myanmar/Burma, Syria, Zimbabwe, and any other U.S. sanctioned country and is void where prohibited by law. Employees, officers, directors, agents, representatives and their immediate family members (which means parents, spouses, children, siblings, in-laws, grandparents and grandchildren and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) or residents in the same household (whether legally related or not) of Sam Harris Media, Inc. (“Sponsor”) and its respective parents, affiliated and subsidiary companies, advertising and promotion agencies, legal and financial advisors, any and all other companies associated with this Contest are not eligible to enter or otherwise participate in this Contest. Void where prohibited by law. Contest is subject to all applicable federal, state, provincial/territorial, and local laws.
Entrants must be individuals who are the age of majority or older in his/her jurisdiction.

HOW TO ENTER: During the Contest Period, visit and follow the instructions provided to complete the Author Contact form with your personal information and submit an essay that attempts to refute the central argument of Sam Harris’s book, The Moral Landscape (an “Entry”). Entries cannot exceed 1000 words in length.  All Entries must be received by February 9, 2014 at 11:59 PM PST to be considered eligible. Sponsor’s clock is the official timekeeper of this Contest. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means, or any means which subvert the entry process are void. Limit one (1) Entry per person and per email address throughout the Contest Period. Entries received from any person or email address in excess of the limitation will be void.  If an Entry does not conform to these Official Rules, such Entry will be void. 



• Each Entry must be submitted through the Author Contact Form at (not as an email attachment).
• Each Entry must be submitted by its actual author.
• Each Entry must be in English and cannot exceed 1000 words in length.
• An Entry may be published elsewhere, in whole or in part, either prior to the Contest or concurrently, but the publication details must be included with each submission (these details do not count against the length limit).
• An Entry must not be offensive or inappropriate, as determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion.
• An Entry must be the original work of the entrant (written by entrant) and must not infringe upon the copyrights, trademarks, rights of privacy, publicity, moral rights, other intellectual property or other rights of any person or entity.

If the Entry contains any material or elements that are not owned by the entrant, and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, the entrant is responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the Entry, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the use and exhibition of the Entry by Sponsor in the manner set forth in these Official Rules, including, without limitation, name and likeness permissions from any person who is named or is identifiable in the Entry. Sponsor reserves the right to request proof of these permissions in a form acceptable to Sponsor from any entrant at any time. Failure to provide such proof may, if requested, render Entry null and void.  Each entrant agrees to reimburse Sponsor and other Released Parties (as defined below) in full in respect to any expense, cost, or liability incurred by Sponsor or any other Released Party as a result of any claims of infringement or other breach of intellectual property or other rights by any third party resulting from Sponsor or other Released Party’s use of any element of the entrant’s Entry as authorized by these Official Rules.

By submitting an Entry, entrant acknowledges and agrees that Sponsor may obtain many Entries in connection with this Contest and/or other contests staged and/or promoted by the Sponsor, and that such Entries may be similar or identical in theme, idea, format or other respects to other Entries submitted in connection with this Contest and/or other contests sponsored by the Sponsor or submitted for other reasons or other materials developed by the Sponsor. Entrant waives any and all claims entrant may have had, may have, and/or may have in the future, that any Entry and/or other works accepted, reviewed and/or used by the entrant may be similar to his/her Entry, or that any compensation is due to entrant in connection with such Entry or other works used by Sponsor.

By submitting your Entry, you agree that your Entry conforms to these Official Rules and that Sponsor, in its sole discretion, may disqualify your Entry for any reason, including if it determines, in its sole discretion, that your Entry fails to conform to these Official Rules in any way or otherwise contains unacceptable content as determined by Sponsor, in its sole discretion.

By submitting an Entry, entrant hereby grants permission for the Entry to be posted on www. or other websites. Entrant agrees that Released Parties (as defined below) are not responsible for any unauthorized use of Entries by third parties. Released Parties do not guarantee the posting of any Entry and reserve the right to remove any posted Entry at any time and/or for any reason whatsoever. Prior to being posted online, the Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to edit or modify any Entry, or to request an entrant to modify or edit his or her Entry, in order to ensure that the Entry complies with these Official Rules, or for any other reason.

JUDGING PHASE: Beginning on or about February 10, 2014, all eligible Entries received by Sponsor during the Contest Period will be judged by a panel of qualified judges, selected by Sponsor, in its sole discretion, based on the following criteria (weighed equally): (i) the degree to which it challenges the central argument advanced in The Moral Landscape; (ii) philosophical interest and (iii) the quality of the prose (the “Judging Criteria”). The one (1) Entry with the highest total score will be deemed the potential winner, subject to verification of eligibility and compliance with these Official Rules.  In the event of a tie, an additional, “tie-breaking” judge will judge all such Entries that are tied to determine the potential Winner based on the Judging Criteria listed herein.  Prize award is subject to verification of eligibility and compliance with these Official Rules.  Judging will be completed and the potential winner will be contacted by June 1, 2014.  If you have not been contacted by this date, you may assume that you are not the potential winner.

WINNER NOTIFICATION: Judges’ and Sponsor’s decisions are final and binding on all matters relating to this Contest, without right of appeal.  Potential winner will be notified by telephone, mail and/or email and will be required to complete an Affidavit, Declaration, or Certificate of Eligibility, Liability and Publicity Release (unless prohibited by law) and any other documents (e.g. assignment of license to Entry and waiver of moral rights) required by Sponsor, which must be returned within 10 days of date of prize notification.  Return of prize or prize notification as undeliverable, failure to sign and return requested documentation within the specified time period, the inability of Sponsor to contact potential winner within a reasonable time period or noncompliance with these Official Rules by any potential winner will result in disqualification and, at Sponsor’s sole discretion, a runner-up winner may be notified.

PRIZE (1):  The Winner will receive $2,000.00 awarded as a check and the opportunity for the winning essay to be published at; Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): $2,000.

PRIZE CONDITIONS: If Sam Harris finds the argument advanced in the winning essay sufficiently persuasive, as determined in his sole discretion, the Winner will receive $20,000.00 awarded as a check, in lieu of the prize indicated above. The $20,000.00 check is not guaranteed and may not be awarded if Sam Harris does not find the Entry to be sufficiently persuasive, as determined in his sole discretion. The opportunity for the winning essay to be published at is not guaranteed and has no retail value. In the event that the winning essay cannot be published on for any reason, no compensation or substitution will be provided in lieu thereof; however, the remainder of the prize shall be awarded and Sponsor shall have no further obligation to the winner. Winner may not substitute, assign or transfer prize, but Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to substitute prize (or portion thereof) with one of comparable or greater value.  Winner is responsible for all applicable federal, state, local and provincial taxes, if any, as well as any other costs and expenses associated with prize acceptance and use not specified herein as being provided.  All prize details are at Sponsor’s sole discretion. 

GENERAL CONDITIONS: By participating, each entrant agrees: (a) to abide by these Official Rules and decisions of Sponsor and judges, which shall be final and binding in all respects relating to this Contest without right of appeal, including, without limitation, any decisions regarding the eligibility/disqualification of Entries; (b) to release, discharge and hold harmless Sponsor, and its parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies, and the respective officers, directors, shareholders, employees, agents and representatives of the foregoing (collectively, “Released Parties”) from any and all injuries, liability, losses and damages of any kind to persons, including death, or property resulting, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from entrant’s participation in the Contest or any Contest-related activity or the acceptance, possession, use or misuse of any awarded prize and (c) to the use of his/her name, voice, performance, photograph/video, image and/or likeness for programming, advertising, publicity and promotional purposes in any and all media, now or hereafter known, worldwide and on the Internet, and in perpetuity by Sponsor and its designees, without compensation (unless prohibited by law) or additional consents from entrant or any third party and without prior notice, approval or inspection, and to execute specific consent to such use if asked to do so.  By participating, entrant also agrees not to release any publicity or other materials on his/her own or through someone else regarding his/her participation in the Contest without the prior written consent of the Sponsor, which it may withhold in its sole discretion.

OWNERSHIP/USE OF ENTRIES: Entrants will retain ownership of their Entries.  However, by entering this Contest, each entrant grants Sponsor and all other Released Parties a royalty-free license to edit, modify, cut, rearrange, add to, delete from, copy, reproduce, translate, adapt, publish, distribute, exploit, and use his/her Entry and the content of and elements embodied in such Entry, including, without limitation, the names and likenesses of any persons or locations embodied therein, in any and all media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity without compensation, permission or notification to entrant or any third party.  By entering this Contest, each entrant represents and warrants that the above described license to the Sponsor does not violate any third party rights or agreements.  Each entrant hereby waives any claim that the entrant may otherwise, now or hereafter, have in any jurisdiction based on “moral rights” or “droit moral” or unfair competition law in respect of Sponsor or any other Released Party’s use of the Entry as authorized by these Official Rules.  Entrants also agree not to instigate, support, maintain, or authorize any action, claim or lawsuit against Sponsor and any other Released Party on grounds that any use of the Entry as authorized by these Official Rules infringes or violates any rights of any entrants.

MISCELLANEOUS: Released Parties are not responsible for lost, late, incomplete, damaged, inaccurate, stolen, delayed, misdirected, undelivered, or garbled Entries or essays; or for lost, interrupted or unavailable network, server, Internet Service Provider (ISP), website, or other connections, availability or accessibility or miscommunications or failed computer, satellite, telephone or cable transmissions, lines, or technical failure or jumbled, scrambled, delayed, or misdirected transmissions or computer hardware or software malfunctions, failures or difficulties, or other errors or difficulties of any kind whether human, mechanical, electronic, computer, network, typographical, printing or otherwise relating to or in connection with the Contest, including, without limitation, errors or difficulties which may occur in connection with the administration of the Contest, the processing or judging of Entries or essays, the announcement of the prize, the incorrect submission of Contest materials.  Released Parties are also not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by site users, tampering, hacking, or by any equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Contest.  Released Parties are not responsible for injury or damage to any person’s computer related to or resulting from participating in this Contest or downloading materials from or use of the website.  Persons who tamper with or abuse any aspect of the Contest or website, who act in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner or who are in violation of these Official Rules, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and all associated Entries will be void. Should any portion of the Contest be, in Sponsor’s sole opinion, compromised by virus, worms, bugs, non-authorized human intervention or other causes which, in the sole opinion of the Sponsor, corrupt or impair the administration, security, fairness or proper play, or submission of Entries, Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify or terminate the Contest and, if terminated, at its discretion, select the potential winner from all eligible, non-suspect Entries received prior to action taken using the judging procedure outlined above. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE THE WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST MAY BE IN VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO ANY AND ALL AVAILABLE REMEDIES (INCLUDING ATTORNEYS’ FEES) FROM ANY SUCH INDIVIDUAL TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW, INCLUDING CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.

In the event of a dispute regarding who submitted an Entry, Entries will be deemed to have been submitted by the authorized account holder of the email address submitted at the time of entry, “Authorized account holder” is defined as the person who is assigned an email address by an Internet provider, online service provider, or other organization (e.g. business, educational institute, etc.) that is responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted email address.  An entrant may be required to provide proof that he/she is the authorized account holder of the email address associated with an Entry.  The Sponsor reserves the right to cancel or suspend this Contest or to amend these Official Rules without prior notice or obligation, in the event of any accident, printing, administrative, or other error or any kind

ARBITRATION: Except where prohibited by law, as a condition of participating in this Contest, each entrant agrees that (1) any and all disputes and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Contest, or prize awarded, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by final and binding arbitration under the rules of the American Arbitration Association and held at the AAA regional office nearest Los Angeles; (2) the Federal Arbitration Act shall govern the interpretation, enforcement and all proceedings at such arbitration; and (3) judgment upon such arbitration award may be entered in any court having jurisdiction. Under no circumstances will entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and entrant hereby waives all rights to claim, punitive, incidental or consequential damages, or any other damages, including attorneys’ fees, other than entrant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (i.e., costs associated with participating in this Contest), and entrant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.

CHOICE OF LAW: All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of entrant and Sponsor in connection with the Contest, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the substantive laws of the State of California, USA.

REQUEST FOR WINNER’S NAME: For the name of the winner (available after June 1, 2014), send an email through the contact form on this website.