A picture of the thinker statue beside a functional MRI of someone in the thinker pose.

About Nick Byrd

I am a philosopher-scientist — like a physician-scientist that also studies topics beyond medicine. At Palm Beach Atlantic University, University of Colorado, and Florida State University I studied philosophy, quantitative cognitive science, and religion. Then I completed an Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University and Stevens Institute of Technology.

Higher-order reasoning is my main area of study. I exploit the history of ideas and quantitative scientific methods to answer questions like, “What kinds of reasoning are more rational?”, “When does rational thinking improve our beliefs or well-being?”, and “How can technology impact our reasoning and well-being?”. This involves tracing people’s reasoning (e.g., as they think-aloud or chat with someone who disagrees) and intervening on people’s reasoning (e.g., to debias or depolarize). Beyond research and teaching, I co-manage the Brains blog (with Dan Burnston) and write for Psychology Today.

The U.S. Intelligence Community, the John Templeton Foundation, and various universities have provided over $550,000 to support our research. Hundreds of thousands of people from 195 countries have found the research via this website. More people learned about it in person at presentations on at least three continents or in articles, podcasts, videos, radio segments, press releases, or virtual presentations in venues like Nature, NPR, and the American Philosophical Association.

You can find more information — including free copies and audio of our latest papers — in my online CV: byrdnick.com/cv. You can follow me online using the list of links below or contact me using the form on this page.

Daily Activities

I post about research and education on social media almost daily, including my newest publications, presentations, and other professional activities. You can follow along at the links below:

Free Time

When I am not working, I am spending time with my spouse, exercising outside, learning, traveling, watching stand-up comedy, and — on good days — going to bed early. You can follow some of these activities on Instagram and Strava. [Jump To Top]

Some History

  • ParentsMy mother was an accountant, a jeweler, and a social worker. My father was a restaurant owner and restaurant product salesman. I grew up in Massachusetts and South Florida.
  • ChildhoodSince I was a kid, I have enjoyed building things and taking them apart —e.g., Lego, K’Nex, bikes, boats, arguments, etc. One of my first (and favorite) jobs was building and remodeling homes. As a teenager, my favorite classes involved building stuff, using computers, arguing, or some combination thereof. Beyond that, I tried track, cross country, soccer, football, band, church, theatre, video games, or some kind of volunteering.
  • Education. As a teenager, I enjoyed — among other things — discovering how things work. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to do this full-time. So I majored in Engineering and Religion. (I guess I thought that those were the paths to figuring out how things work.) A few years into college, I realized that philosophy is more foundational than either engineering or religion: a sort of meta-engineering and meta-religion. So I became a philosophy major. A few more years passed and, in graduate school, I realized that cognitive science is even more foundational than philosophy: it can predict and perhaps even explain how we think about philosophy (and many other things!). So cognitive science has become the keystone in my research. [Jump To Top]

Has anyone ever told you…?

Yes. I have been told that I look like Steve Kerr, Neil Patrick Harris, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., but only when I’m not at home. And no: it’s not annoying. I probably benefit from associations with well-liked, talented people.