Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 6: Your Health vs. My Liberty (COVID-19 Research Paper)

Welcome to the latest episode of Upon Reflection. This time, I read my paper with Michał Białek, “Your health vs. my liberty: Philosophical beliefs dominated reflection and identifiable victim effects when predicting public health recommendation compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic” (Total N = 998). As the title suggests we found that complying with public health recommendations didn’t depend on whether people received messaging about identifiable COVID-19 victims or statistical victims in flatten the curve graphs. Rather compliance increased the more that people endorsed an effective altruist principle about reducing harm and the more that they endorsed the truth of scientific theories, but compliance decreased as people valued liberty more than equality. Importantly, we also found that people were less likely to prevent the spread of disease by wearing masks and staying at home if the pandemic was equally deadly, but labeled as a “flu” pandemic—-mostly because they perceived this as less threatening to society. We think this suggests that people’s life-threatening decisions to flout public health recommendations like mask-wearing and staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic was not just about ineffective messaging, but also about their prior philosophical commitments.

Continue reading Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 6: Your Health vs. My Liberty (COVID-19 Research Paper)

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)

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.

Continue reading New paper: “Your Health vs. My Liberty”

5 Thoughts About “Liberal Hypocrites”


Liberals prize inclusivity and tolerance. But liberals also criticize certain things — e.g., certain things that conservatives do. So liberals aren’t inclusive after all! Liberal hypocrites! Boo liberals! …or so the story goes.

Should liberals be inclusive and tolerant of everything? Are they hypocritical if they’re not? No. Of course not. For an explanation and context, here are five thoughts about liberals, hypocrisy, and tolerance. (Spoiler: I make multiple concessions to conservatives.)

Continue reading 5 Thoughts About “Liberal Hypocrites”

The Institute of Art and Ideas Podcast: Europe’s (Superior) Answer to TED


I first learned about the Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI) a few years ago. I was watching one of the IAI’s debates about the limits of logic. The discussion was long form, but structured. And it included perspectives from multiple areas of expertise. For those reasons alone, the IAI had my attention. After all, you don’t typically get all that from American alternatives like TED or Talks at Google. In this post, I want to introduce the uninitiated to the IAI podcast by highlighting two of my favorite episodes. Continue reading The Institute of Art and Ideas Podcast: Europe’s (Superior) Answer to TED

Sexual Harassment Accusations & The Acceptance Principle


A public figure is accused of a sexual misdeed. You know nothing about the accused besides their name and their alleged crime. And you know nothing about the accuser except their name and their accusation. Can you believe the accuser? We often learn about such sexual harassment accusations. So it behooves us to find a principled response. The Acceptance Principle suggests that we can accept this kind of accusation. Why? I’ll explain in this post. Continue reading Sexual Harassment Accusations & The Acceptance Principle

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