Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 5: Reflective Reasoning For Real People (Dissertation Overview)

Welcome to Upon Reflection. In this episode, I review the major take-aways and findings from my dissertation titled, “Reflective Reasoning For Real People”. I explain what cognitive scientists mean by terms like “reflective reasoning”, how reflection is measured empirically, how reflection can either help or hinder our reasoning, how more reflective philosophers tend toward certain philosophical beliefs, and how reflection may help us retrain our implicit biases.

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New paper: “Your Health vs. My Liberty”

Why did otherwise life affirming people flout public health recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Was it leaders’ messaging? For example, are “flatten the curve” graphs about statistical victims less effective than information about identifiable victims?
  • Was it people’s reasoning? Do some people not think carefully enough about public health? Might people who better at math better understand public health information involving concepts like exponential growth and probability?
  • Was it people’s philosophical preferences? Do some people just care more about preventing harm? Do others prioritize personal liberty over pubic health? Do people’s beliefs about science matter? Religion?

Michał Białek and I investigated. In short, we found that flouting public health recommendations was less about messaging or reasoning than philosophical beliefs, especially beliefs about our duties to others, liberty, and science. The paper is under review now published in Cognition. As always, you can find a free copy of the paper on my CV at byrdnick.com/cv. More details below.

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Anders Ericsson (1947-2020)

My colleagues and I are deeply saddened about the unexpected passing of Anders Ericsson on June 17. Dr. Ericsson was not only a massive figure in psychology, philosophy, performance, and beyond but—in my experience—an outstanding person.

Standout Memories

There is much to say about Anders. I can speak only to the past few years—and only a slice of it. Nonetheless, that slice of Anders is rich. Indulge me just three stories.

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New Talk: Great Minds Do Not Think Alike

I’ll be presenting new data from a pre-registered replication at some conferences in the next few months. The study replicated findings that those with a Ph.D. in philosophy are more reflective, that less reflective philosophers tended towards certain philosophical views, and that some of these reflection-philosophy correlations are partly explained or mediated by culture, education, gender, and personality. Here’s a handout from some presentations that I’ll be giving in 2020.

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Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 2: Not All Who Ponder Count Costs – Reflection & Moral Dilemmas

In this podcast episode , I’ll be reading Paul Conway’s and my recent paper about moral dilemmas entitled, “Not all who ponder count costs: Arithmetic reflection predicts utilitarian tendencies, but logical reflection predicts both deontological and utilitarian tendencies“. In this paper we find that—contrary to some dual process theories’ claims—consequentialist responses to moral dilemmas may not be more reflective per se, but rather more influenced by mathematical information. As with all of my papers, the free preprint of the paper can be found on my CV at byrdnick.com/cv under “Publications“.

A screen shot of Nick Byrd and Paul Conway's 2019 paper "Not All Who Ponder Count Costs"

If this sounds like the kind of research that you want to hear more about, you can subscribe to Upon Reflection wherever you find podcasts. You can also find out more about me and my research on Twitter via @byrd_nick, or on Facebook via @byrdnick. If you end up enjoying the Upon Reflection podcast, then feel free to tell people about it, online, in person, or in your ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review.

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A Dissertation About Reflective Reasoning in Philosophy, Morality, & Bias


One of the things that I worked on in 2018 was a dissertation about the roles of reflective reasoning in philosophy, morality, and bias. Pending a follow-up study for one chapter, every chapter is written and has enjoyed at least one round of comments—and some of the chapters are under review. As the chapters find homes in journals, I will be sure to post preprints and links to the online publication on my blog and in my social media feeds. So, ya know, follow those if you want more updates. In this post, I’ll give you drafts of the abstracts for each chapter, so that you can get a birds-eye view of the dissertation project.†

[Update: audio and video of the introduction to the dissertation defense is now available.]

Continue reading A Dissertation About Reflective Reasoning in Philosophy, Morality, & Bias

Multi-disciplinary Philosophy PhD Programs


One of my favorite researchers is Chandra Sripada. Sripada is a professor of both philosophy and psychiatry. My research also crosses the humanities-science divide(s). So, I often wonder how to replicate a multi-disciplinary career like Sripada’s. A look at Sripada’s CV reveals a career path involving multiple advanced degrees, internships/residencies, etc. If you are like me, then you (or your partner) might want a more efficient path to a career. In this post, I share advice about how to obtain multi-disciplinary training from philosophy graduate programs. Continue reading Multi-disciplinary Philosophy PhD Programs