Amy Alkon

On this date in 1964, advice columnist and author Amy Alkon was born into a Jewish Michigan family. She grew up in Farmington Hills, a wealthy Detroit suburb. She recalled “non-Jewish kids around us egging our house, shaving-creaming ‘Dirty Jews’ & the like on our garage door, & physically bullying me” in an online tweet she wrote on Aug. 8, 2018.

She started dispensing advice after moving to New York City and setting up on a street corner in SoHo as one of three women who called themselves “The Advice Ladies.” The three co-authored Free Advice: The Advice Ladies on Love, Dating, Sex, and Relationships (1996), which Alkon followed up with I See Rude People: One Woman’s Battle to Beat Some Manners Into Impolite Society in 2009.

She wrote “Ask Amy Alkon,” a column in the New York Daily News before she became nationally distributed as “Ask the Advice Goddess” through the Creators Syndicate and reaching about 100 publications. LA Weekly called her “Miss Manners With Fangs.”

“I’m an atheist (I require evidence to believe; don’t go on faith), but it’s rude & wrong to paint religious people as a big bunch of idiots,” Alkon tweeted on Aug. 30, 2017. She blogs at and as of this writing in 2020 lives in Santa Monica, Calif. Her weekly podcast “HumanLab: The Science Between Us” features behavioral scientists discussing their work. Her 15-minute, 2016 TED talk “The Surprising Self-Interest in Being Kind to Strangers” is here.

Along with her advice columns, she blogs about applied behavioral science and discusses religion. For example, in a Sept. 28, 2007 blog titled “Religion As A Black Market For Irrationality,” she detailed how Sam Harris in Newsweek “lays out the gist of evidence-free living. Reason is a compulsion, not a choice.” Alkon also writes what she calls “science-help” books. In Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence (2018), she humorously debunked widely accepted but scientifically unsupported notions about self-esteem, shame, willpower and more.

Asked by the Detroit Metro Times (Dec. 15, 1999) about her views on marriage, she said, “I don’t believe in marriage; not the way it’s practiced. I just don’t see committing to be with somebody ’till death do us part.’ I can live to be maybe 120 if I take care of myself. … My idea of a great relationship is one in which I live separately from the person I’m involved with.”

Looks aren’t important, she said. “I, personally, don’t care if a guy has a face like a shoe, if he’s tall, nice and smart.” The Metro Times then asked, “Dr. Laura: Love her or hate her?” Alkon: “She’s an evil witch. I call it ‘car-crash radio.’ There’s no reason to berate people like she does. I hate hypocrisy, and I think she’s a horrible hypocrite.”

PHOTO: Alkon in August 2009 during DeepGlamour’s first birthday party; photo by Virginia Postrel under CC 2.0.

Freedom From Religion Foundation