Nick Byrd’s Blog

Two Years Of Time Logs as a Postdoc. and Assistant Prof.

In 2020, I deferred a tenure track job one year to start a postdoc. By Fall 2021, I had started the tenure track position (restructuring the postdoc as an external grant). In this post, I will report my time-logging data for all of 2020 and 2021, which includes my final 7 months of graduate school, about a year as a postdoc, and then a semester as an assistant professor (slash postdoc). I will also discuss how more remote work, less daylight, and a longer commute might have impacted my schedule and well-being (mostly for the worse).

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Upon Reflection, Ep. 7: Unreflective Intentions Are Compatible With Free Will

On this episode of Upon Reflection, I read my 2021 paper in Logoi titled, “On Second Thought, Libet-style Unreflective Intentions May Be Compatible With Free Will“. Imagine if I could predict your behavior before you even became conscious of your intention to behave that way. Would this mean that you don’t have free will? I used to think so. In this paper, I explain why I was wrong: my view of free will involved magical thinking.

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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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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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5 Ways To Overcome Junk Data From mTurk (and online surveys more generally)

The data quality on Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk) has suffered for years now (Byrd, 2023; Chandler & Paolacci, 2017; Moss & Litman, 2018; Chmielewski & Kucker, 2019; Ahler et al., 2020; Kennedy et al., 2020; MacInnis et al., 2020). There are a few ways to protect online survey data quality. In this post, I will briefly cover five strategies for weeding out junk data in online research (not just via mTurk), from easiest to hardest.

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What good is reflective reasoning?


Philosophers and cognitive scientists tend to think that reflective reasoning will improve our judgments and decisions. The idea reflection will lead us to test our judgments by “looking for their coherence with our beliefs about similar cases and our beliefs about a broader range of …issues” a la reflective equilibrium. This sounds intuitively plausible. But is it true? In this post I briefly present some research suggesting that reflective reasoning often, but does not always improve our judgments and decisions.  Continue reading What good is reflective reasoning?

10 Steps For Organizing A Conference or Workshop

Organizing a conference or workshop is time-consuming yet important work. I have organized a handful or international conferences, in-person and online. In this post, I distill my conference organizing experience into a list of 10 steps to make your conference or workshop a success. To find out more about organizing conferences/workshops—especially online—see Online Conferences: Some history, methods & data

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