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”

How might messaging, reasoning, and philosophical beliefs predict people’s responses to pandemics? Michał Białek and I started wondering about this a few months ago. So we ran some experiments to find out. Our pre-registered hypothesis was wrong, but the other findings were really interesting. Before I get to the findings, consider making some predictions: ask yourself how you expect the following variables to correlate with compliance (or non-compliance) with public health officials’ recommendations such as mask-wearing and sheltering in place:

  • Flatten the curve graphs: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Reflective reasoning: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Mathematical competence: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Economic conservatism: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Social conservatism: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Libertarianism: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Effective altruism: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Utilitarian sacrificial harm: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Belief in God: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Religiosity: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Compatibism about free will: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Identifying as White: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Identifying as a man: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
Continue reading New paper: “Your Health vs. My Liberty”

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 less reflective philosophers tended towards certain philosophical views. It also finds that philosophical views are somewhat predicted by culture, education, gender, and personality. Here’s my handout.

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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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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.

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Philosophy As Proto-Psychology


Philosophers are often trying to understand their intuitions about thought experiments. Traditionally, philosophers do this via introspection. But these days, some philosophers do it more scientifically: they survey people’s’ intuitions and use quantitative arguments for theories about the intuitions. In this post, I want to point out that one of philosophers’ traditional methods might be a kind of proto-psychology. And if that is right, you might wonder, “Is one method better than the other?” By the end of the post, you’ll know of at least one philosopher who argues that the more scientific approach is better. Continue reading Philosophy As Proto-Psychology

3 Obstacles For Research About Cheating & Morality


What if traveling abroad were somehow bad for you? Well, a series of studies seem to find that “[traveling abroad] can lead to [lying and cheating] by increasing moral relativism” (Lu et al 2017, 1, 3). This finding has just the right combination of intuitive plausibility and surprise for us to want to share it uncritically. So, instead, let’s take a look at the methods, measures, and philosophical nuances of the topic. As usual, a bit of reflection makes the finding a bit less exciting and it reveals a need for follow-up research.

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