Nick Byrd’s Blog

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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Upgrading My Laptop From A 2014 Macbook Air to…?

I share a 5-year-old MacBook Air with my partner. We need more storage than this laptop offered when we bought it. However, Apple no longer makes our 11-inch model. So we had to consider something else. In this post, I explain what we considered—from new drives to brand new computers—and why we chose to replace our SSD rather than upgrade to Apple’s latest and greatest laptop computer offerings.

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Data Analysis & Statistics: 3 Approaches For Beginners and DIYers

One of the questions I get a lot these days is, “How can I learn data analysis without actually taking a statistics course?” In this post, I will relay my answers to that question.

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Debiasing in Administration, Advising, & Teaching

I recently published a paper about implicit bias and debiasing. The paper argues that implicit bias is probably associative, but that debiasing is not fully unconscious or involuntary. As with all of my papers, you can find the free preprint of the paper on my CV. Anyway, while I was working on that paper, it occurred to me that my views about implicit bias and debiasing had implications for institutions like universities. Specifically, my views implied that it should be relatively easy for education administrators, advisors, and teachers to incorporate debiasing into what they do. I tested my prediction in my own classroom and the results were promising. Nonetheless, I wanted to hear my colleagues’ ideas about debiasing. So, I created a workshop about it. In this post, I’ll share the materials for the workshop. If your employer or your organization would like me to host this workshop, they can contact me.

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The Anti-natalism Comparison: Contradiction, Equivocation, & Incommensurability


To be or not to be. That is the question. (Seriously.) David Benatar’s chapter “Why Coming Into Existence is Always a Harm” from his book Better Never To Have Been (2006) and follow-up paper “Still Better Never to Have Been: A Reply to (More of) My Critics” argues in favor of the latter: it’s better not to be. This comparative claim seemed intuitively plausible at first.1 However, upon reflection, I find myself puzzled by it. I worry that this anti-natalism comparison involves contradiction, equivocation, or a false sense of commensurability. In this post, I’ll explain.

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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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