The Bat And Ball Problem 20 Years Later

In 2002, a chapter from Kahneman and Frederick mentioned “the bat and ball problem”.

A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total.
The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball.
How much does the ball cost?

By 2005, Frederick’s Cognitive Reflection Test paper added the lesser known Widgets and Lily Pad problems. In the intervening 20-ish years, each paper seems to have accrued over 5000 citations.

In 2023, Meyer and Frederick published a massive follow-up paper about the first problem: 59 studies, over 73,000 participants, and more pages of Appendixes than pages in the main article. As someone studying various reflection tests and interventions, I had to take a look right away. In this post, I list five initial takeaways and two things to like about the paper.

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Here’s to the Philosopher-Scientists!

Sometimes philosophers complain that scientists do philosophy badly and that philosophers may thereby be underrated. The idea is that people could have better philosophy if they just turned to academic philosophers rather than the popular scientists that have done philosophy badly. (Perhaps analogous complaints about philosophers circulate among scientists). In this post, I want to turn our attention to scientists that do philosophy well and philosophers that do science well.

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Upon Reflection, Ep. 10: Great Minds Do Not Think Alike

This time I read my 2022 paper in Review of Philosophy and Psychology titled, “Great Minds Do Not Think Alike: Philosophers’ Views Predicted by Reflection, Education, Personality, and Other Demographic Differences“. As the title suggests, various psychological factors predicted variance in philosophers’ answers to classic philosophical questions. This raises questions about how psychological and demographic differences can explain philosophical differences. There are also implications for scientific psychologists as well as academic philosophers.

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Upon Reflection, 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.

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Upon Reflection, Ep. 3: Causal Network Accounts of Ill-being: Depression & Digital Well-being

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

In this podcast, I read my chapter, “Causal Network Accounts of Ill-being: Depression & Digital Well-being” from Ethics of Digital Well-being: A Multidisciplinary Approach. In this chapter, I review how well-being and ill-being can be understood in terms of the causal networks studied by economists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and other scientists. As with all of my writing, the free preprint can be found on my CV at under “Publications“.

If you want to hear more, you can subscribe 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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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