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.

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

Upon Reflection Podcast Ep. 1: What We Can Infer About Implicit Bias

Welcome to the first episode of Upon Reflection, a podcast about what we think as well as how and why we think it.

A screenshot of the first page of the paper "What We Can (And Can't) Infer About Implicit Bias From Debiasing Experiments".

In this podcast, I’ll be reading my paper entitled, “What We Can (And Can’t) Infer About Implicit Bias From Debiasing Experiments“. I argue that implicit bias is not entirely unconscious or involuntary, but it probably is associative. As with all of my papers, the free preprint of the paper can be found on my CV at byrdnick.com/cv under “Publications“.

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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New Paper: What We Can (And Can’t) Infer About Implicit Bias From Debiasing Experiments

Synthese has just published one of my papers on implicit bias. As with all of my papers, you can find a link to the free preprint on my CV: byrdnick.com/cv. The final, corrected, and typeset version is on Synthese’s website and the audio version is on my podcast. In this post, you will find a non-technical overview of the paper’s main point and then the TLDR explainer.

Continue reading New Paper: What We Can (And Can’t) Infer About Implicit Bias From Debiasing Experiments

The Bias Fallacy


“They’re biased, so they’re wrong!” That’s a fallacy. We can call it the bias fallacy. Here’s why it’s a fallacy: being biased doesn’t entail being wrong. So when someone jumps from the observation that So-and-so is biased to the conclusion that So-and-so is wrong, they commit the bias fallacy. It’s that simple.

In this post, I’ll give some examples of the fallacy, explain the fallacy, and then suggest how we should respond to the bias fallacy.

1. Examples of The Bias Fallacy

You’ve probably seen instances of the bias fallacy all over the internet.

In my experience, the fallacy is a rhetorical device. The purpose of the bias fallacy is to dismiss some person or their claims.

Like many rhetorical devices, this one is logically fallacious. So it’s ineffective. At least, it should be ineffective. That is, we should not be persuaded by it.

So if you’ve seen the bias fallacy online, then go ahead and set the record straight:

'They're biased, so they're wrong.' Not so fast! We can be biased without being wrong. #TheBiasFallacyClick To Tweet  Continue reading The Bias Fallacy

Implicit Bias & Philosophy


This week, I’m talking about implicit bias over at The Brains Blog. I’m including my portion of the discussion below.

1.  The Implicit Association Test (IAT)

A screen recording of the race implicit association test

The implicit association test (IAT) is one way to measure implicitly biased behavior. In the IAT, “participants […] are asked to rapidly categorize two [kinds of stimuli] (black vs. white [faces]) [into one of] two attributes (‘good’ vs. ‘bad’). Differences in response latency (and sometimes differences in error-rates) are then treated as a measure of the association between the target [stimuli] and the target attribute” (Huebner 2016). Likewise, changes in response latencies and error-rates resulting from experimental interventions are treated as experimentally manipulated changes in associations.

2.  The Effect Of Philosophy

As philosophers, we are in the business of arguments and their propositions, not associations. So we might wonder whether we can use arguments to intervene on our implicitly biased behavior. And it turns out that we can — even if the findings are not always significant and the effect sizes are often small. Some think that this effect of arguments on IAT performance falsifies the idea that implicitly biased behavior is realized by associations (Mandelbaum 2015). The idea is that propositions are fundamentally different than associations. So associations cannot be modified by propositions. So if an arguments’ propositions can change participants’ implicitly biased behavior — as measured by the IAT — then implicit biases might “not [be] predicated on [associations] but [rather] unconscious propositionally structured beliefs” (Mandelbaum 2015, bracketed text and italics added). But there is some reason to think that such falsification relies on oversimplification. After all, there are many processes involved in our behavior — implicitly biased or otherwise. So there are many processes that need to be accounted for when trying to measure the effect of an intervention on our implicitly biased behavior — e.g., participants’ concern about discrimination, their motivation to respond without prejudice (Plant & Devine, 1998), and their personal awareness of bias. So what happens when we control for these variables? In many cases, we find that argument-like interventions on implicitly biased behavior are actually explained by changes in participants’ concern(s), motivation(s), and/or awareness, but not changes in associations (Devine, Forscher, Austin, and Cox 2013; Conrey, Sherman, Gawronski, Hugenberg, and Groom 2005). Continue reading Implicit Bias & Philosophy

Implicit Bias | Part 5: Bias Feedback

Apparently, when I impersonate conservatives, I do it with a southern US accent (e.g., “‘Murica!”, “Don’t mess with Texas!”, etc.). I don’t intentionally adopt the accent. In fact, I never even knew I was doing it until my partner pointed it out to me! Without my partner’s third-person perspective, I might never have noticed. I might have just continued mocking people with southern accents. In fact, that wouldn’t be surprising given what we learned in this series [Part 1 – Part 5]. So if we want to do something about our biases, then we would do well to seek this kind of third-personal feedback. Let’s call it bias feedback.

1.  Feedback

The bias feedback I received from my partner can be characterized as bottom-up and informal. Bottom up because it came from a peer rather than from a position of authority. And informal because it happened freely in ordinary conversation rather than as part of some kind of compulsory process. Many people are uncomfortable with informal, bottom-up feedback. So if informal, bottom-up feedback is to be accepted in some contexts, then it might have to be integrated into that context’s culture. There might be a few ways to do this. Continue reading Implicit Bias | Part 5: Bias Feedback

Implicit Bias | Part 4: Ten Debiasing Strategies

At this point it’s pretty clear why someone would be worried about bias. We’re biased (Part 1). Consciously suppressing our biases might not work (Part 2).  And our bias seems to tamper with significant, real-world decisions (Part 3). So now that we’re good and scared, let’s think about what we can do. Below are more than 10 debiasing strategies that fall into 3 categories: debiasing our stereotypes, debiasing our environment, and debiasing our decision procedures. Continue reading Implicit Bias | Part 4: Ten Debiasing Strategies