How To Prepare For A Thesis Defense

I defended my doctoral dissertation in 2020—yes, remotely. I also defended a master’s thesis a few years earlier. I learned a few things and sought plenty of advice between these two defenses. In this post I will share the checklist that I used to prepare for the dissertation defense.

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6 Tips For Academic Presentations

Like many academics, I’ve given dozens of academic presentations and dozens more audio and video interviews in the past few years. After a series of subpar presentations, plenty of feedback, and lots of practice, I now get remarkably positive feedback on these presentations. For example, some professors have advised their graduate students to model their job talks after some of the talks that I have given about reasoning, morality, and religion. In this post, I’ll share the best advice for academic presentations that I have received so far, focusing only on what I have found to be most helpful.

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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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Two Years In The Life Of A Grad Student: Time Logging Data

I have had some side gigs in graduate school that involved creating invoices for hourly work—web development, copyediting, research assistance, etc. I used Toggl to log my time. At some point, I realized that I could log all of my work time—not just the billable time. So in 2018 and 2019, I logged all of my work time. In this post, I will summarize the 2018 and 2019 data and mention some take-aways for 2020.

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Introduction to Philosophy: A Free Course


Below are the syllabus and materials for my Introduction to Philosophy course. You are welcome to use any of the material as a student or as an instructor. The usual creative commons license applies to my portion of this—i.e., only the stuff to which I would have a copyright. (If you are my student, remember that you can be quizzed on the contents of the syllabus.)

I. Introduction to Philosophy

Did you know that people who study philosophy make significantly fewer reasoning errors than others? (See Livengood et al 2010 and Byrd 2014). And did you know that philosophy majors outperform basically everyone else on the GRE? And did you know that the median mid-career salary for people who major in philosophy is $81,000? And did you know that philosophy majors were projected to be the top-paid humanities major in 2016? Find out more about philosophy majors here. And if you’ve never taken a philosophy class, you might want to read this 3-4 page intro. Continue reading Introduction to Philosophy: A Free Course

Working Retreats: 3 Productivity Tips?

I recently signed up for and attended a writing retreat. I got a lot of writing done even though I was essentially doing the same thing that I always do: sit at a desk and try to write my papers—I didn’t even talk to anyone, really. I was puzzled about why a group working retreat could be more productive for someone than working on their own. As I thought about it, I came up with three hypotheses based on research on precommitment, scheduling, and work environment. I shared and explained them on Twitter (see below).

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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.]

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