Nick Byrd

Nick Byrd
Stevens Institute of Technology · College of Arts and Letters

Ph.D.
Seeking collaborators specializing in natural language processing, corpus analysis, Otree, Python, fNIRS, and fMRI.

About

32
Publications
9,074
Reads
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105
Citations
Introduction
My research focuses on reasoning, well-being, and technology. I approach these topics from both the armchair and the lab. I am particularly interested in how differences in reasoning can explain differences in philosophical beliefs and judgments. I am also interested in how differences in reasoning lead to desirable (or undesirable) outcomes. Research aside, I like to run, hike, travel, make stuff, and go to bed early. See byrdnick.com for the latest (included CV and other documents).
Additional affiliations
August 2020 - July 2021
Carnegie Mellon University
Position
  • Fellow
Description
  • Conducting debiasing and depolarization research for the US Intelligence Community (via Oak Ridge Associated Universities).
August 2014 - July 2020
Florida State University
Position
  • PhD Student
June 2013 - June 2014
University of Colorado Boulder
Position
  • Research Assistant
Education
August 2014 - July 2020
Florida State University
Field of study
  • Philosophy
August 2012 - May 2014
University of Colorado Boulder
Field of study
  • Philosophy, Cognitive Science, Teaching
August 2005 - May 2009
Palm Beach Atlantic University
Field of study
  • Philosophy

Publications

Publications (32)
Article
Full-text available
Conventional sacrificial moral dilemmas propose directly causing some harm to prevent greater harm. Theory suggests that accepting such actions (consistent with utilitarian philosophy) involves more reflective reasoning than rejecting such actions (consistent with deontological philosophy). However, past findings do not always replicate, confound d...
Article
Full-text available
In response to crises, people sometimes prioritize fewer specific identifiable victims over many unspecified statistical victims. How other factors can explain this bias remains unclear. So two experiments investigated how complying with public health recommendations during the COVID19 pandemic depended on victim portrayal, reflection, and philosop...
Article
Full-text available
Reflectivists consider reflective reasoning crucial for good judgment and action. Anti-reflectivists deny that reflection delivers what reflectivists seek. Alas, the evidence is mixed. So, does reflection confer normative value or not? This paper argues for a middle way: reflection can confer normative value, but its ability to do this is bound by...
Article
Full-text available
Prior research found correlations between reflection test performance and philosophical tendencies among laypeople. In two large studies (total N = 1299)-one pre-registered-many of these correlations were replicated in a sample that included both laypeople and philosophers. For example, reflection test performance predicted preferring atheism over...
Preprint
Full-text available
The standard interpretation of cognitive reflection tests assumes that correct responses are reflective and lured responses are unreflective. However, prior process-tracing of mathematical reflection tests has cast doubt on this interpretation. In two studies (N = 201), we deployed a validated think-aloud protocol in-person and online to test how t...
Article
Our understanding of implicit bias and how to measure it has yet to be settled. Various debates between cognitive scientists are unresolved. Moreover, the public's understanding of implicit bias tests continues to lag behind cognitive scientists'. These discrepancies pose potential problems. After all, a great deal of implicit bias research has bee...
Article
Full-text available
Ordinary judgments about personal identity are complicated by the fact that phrases like “same person” and “different person” have multiple uses in ordinary English. This complication calls into question the significance of recent experimental work on this topic. For example, Tobia (Anal 75: 396–405, 2015) found that judgments of personal identity...
Preprint
Prior research found correlations between reflection test performance and philosophical tendencies among laypeople. In two large studies (total N = 1299)—one pre-registered—many of these correlations were replicated in a sample that included both laypeople and philosophers. For example, reflection test performance predicted preferring atheism over...
Preprint
Our understanding of implicit bias and how to measure it has yet to be settled. Various debates between cognitive scientists are unresolved. Moreover, the public’s under-standing of implicit bias tests continues to lag behind cognitive scientists’. These discrepancies pose potential problems. After all, a great deal of implicit bias research has be...
Article
Full-text available
Philosophy is a reflective activity. So perhaps it is unsurprising that many philosophers have claimed that reflection plays an important role in shaping and even improving our philosophical thinking. This hypothesis seems plausible given that training in philosophy has correlated with better performance on tests of reflection and reflective reason...
Preprint
Prior research found correlations between reflection test performance and philosophical tendencies among laypeople. In two large studies (total N = 1299)—one pre-registered—many of these correlations were replicated in a sample that included both laypeople and philosophers. For example, reflection test performance predicted preferring atheism over...
Poster
Full-text available
Prior research found correlations between reflection test performance and philosophical beliefs among lay people. In two large studies (total N > 1200)-one pre-registered replication and extension, many of these correlations were found among philosophers. For example, less reflective philosophers preferred theism over atheism (a la Pennycook et al....
Preprint
Pubslished version: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/359114933. Prior research found correlations between reflection test performance and philosophical beliefs among lay people. In two large studies (total N > 1200)-one pre-registered replication and extension-many of these correlations were found among philosophers. For example, less refl...
Chapter
Full-text available
Academics have probably been organizing conferences since at least the time of Plato. 2 More recently, academics have brought some of their conferences online. 3 However, the adoption of online conferences is limited. One might wonder if scholars prefer traditional conferences for their ability to provide goods that online conferences cannot. While...
Preprint
Full-text available
Philosophy is a reflective activity. So perhaps it is unsurprising that many philosophers have claimed that reflection plays an important role in shaping and even improving our philosophical thinking. This hypothesis seems plausible given that training in philosophy has correlated with better performance on tests of reflection and reflective reason...
Preprint
Full-text available
In response to crises, people sometimes prioritize fewer specific identifiable victims over many unspecified statistical victims. How other factors can explain this bias remains unclear. So two experiments investigated how complying with public health recommendations during the COVID19 pandemic depended on victim portrayal, reflection, and philosop...
Article
Full-text available
The received view of implicit bias holds that it is associative and unreflective. Recently, the received view has been challenged. Some argue that implicit bias is not predicated on “any” associative process, and it is unreflective. These arguments rely, in part, on debiasing experiments. They proceed as follows. If implicit bias is associative and...
Preprint
If a bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total and the bat costs $1.00 more than the ball, then how much does the ball cost? For many, “10 cents” comes to mind immediately. However, a moment’s reflection can reveal that “10 cents” is not the correct answer. There are many reflection tests like this. Each has its limitations. For instance, some reflection...
Chapter
Full-text available
Depression is a common and devastating instance of ill-being which deserves an account. Moreover, the ill-being of depression is impacted by digital technology: some uses of digital technology increase such ill-being while other uses of digital technology increase well-being. So a good account of ill-being would exlicate explicate the antecedents o...
Preprint
Full-text available
Philosophers have probably been organizing conferences since at least the time of Plato’s academy (Barnes, 1998). More recently, philosophers have brought some of their conferences online (e.g., Brown, 2009; Buckner, Byrd, Rushing, & Schwenkler, 2017; Calzavarini & Viola, 2018; Nadelhoffer, 2006). However, the adoption of online conferences is limi...
Presentation
Full-text available
There are plenty of studies showing that having a followable online presence increases your citation rate. This is why some people think that having an online social media presence is helpful for hiring and promotion. What about academic social networks? And what about personal websites? Do you need one? There are a few reasons to think that you do...
Working Paper
One passage in Sidgwick’s Methods claims that all reflective persons accept a certain view about the rules of morality. Surprisingly, Sidgwick is explicit that reflective persons do not arrive at this view via reasoning. Unfortunate-ly, Sidgwick does not offer the alternative explanation of how reflective per-sons share this view of morality. In th...
Working Paper
I consider three arguments by which one might infer the reality and/or truth of a theory from a theory's predictive success. I find that the arguments either beg the question or affirm the consequent. Then I consider one kind of analogy that elicits the intuition the aforementioned inference from success to truth and/or reality is justified. I find...
Working Paper
Maher (1988) and Lange (2001) appeal to intuitions about coin tosses to discern the justification of predictivism about the predictive accuracy of hypotheses. I point out two problems about their use of the coin flipping cases for this purpose. First, the questions that Maher and Lange seem to want to answer are empirical: What do people think abou...
Conference Paper
Armchair and experimental investigations suggest that will-power is related to many variables. For example, will-power can vary with mood, metabolism, and neural function — to name a few. Given that will-power is so multi-faceted, it might be unclear how to make sense of the nature of will-power. In this paper, I describe the nature of will-power a...
Preprint
Cognitive scientists have revealed systematic errors in human reasoning. There is disagreement about what these errors indicate about human rationality, but one upshot seems clear: human reasoning does not seem to fit traditional views of human rationality. This concern about rationality has made its way through various fields and has recently caug...
Thesis
Full-text available
Cognitive scientists have revealed systematic errors in human reasoning. There is disagreement about what these errors indicate about human rationality, but one upshot seems clear: human reasoning does not seem to fit traditional views of human rationality. This concern about rationality has made its way through various fields and has recently caug...
Conference Paper
Huang and Bargh propose that goals can activate and regulate action beneath the threshold of conscious perception. Further, they claim that goals can regulate behavior autonomously and selfishly (think “Selfish Gene”), thus the name Selfish Goals. Conceived this way, selfish goals can make sense of a wide range of behaviors including, but not limit...
Working Paper
Philosophers disagree about whether they rely on intuitions to support their claims and theories (Cappelen 2012, Chalmers 2013). A preliminary analysis of 10 textual cases has been conducted (Cappelen 2012), but more comprehensive and systematic analyses have yet to be completed. The present paper is a proof-of-concept. A 7-million word philosophy...
Working Paper
Various scholars have marshalled empirical and analytic support for the claims that (a) racial segregation is both a cause and effect of injustice and (b) that racial integration can ameliorate some of these injustices. Such arguments for integration are usually aimed at schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces. If the arguments for and predictions a...
Poster
Cognitive scientists have revealed a variety of psychological correlates (e.g. Adelstein 2011, Deyoung 2010) and biological correlates (e.g. Feldmanhall et al 2012, Glenn et al 2009, Harris et al 2009, Hsu et al 2005, Kahane et al 2012, Stern et al 2010) of various self-reported beliefs and judgments. It is perhaps most common to find articles repo...

Questions

Questions (3)
Question
I am finding a lot of individual studies of about very specific tasks (e.g., the effect of highlighting, drawing, etc. on reading comprehension), but not much in the way of big-picture reviews of the literature or books for non-experts. Please feel free to point me to any researchers or their research, but feel especially free to  point me to bigger picture overviews of the literature, if possible. (Thanks in advance!)
Question
I am interested in finding experimental psychologists and philosophers of mind who are currently research syllogistic reasoning. I am particularly interested in learning about younger and early career researchers. Thank you in advance for your suggestions. 
Question
Philosophers of mind disagree about what kinds of reasoning are realizing by rule-based/propositional processing vs. associative (or Hebbian) processing. It seems that there might be empirical tools (or experimental designs) that would help arbitrate between philosophers' claims. Feel free to share your ideas or point me to papers that address this distinction. 

Network

Cited By

Projects

Projects (2)
Project
Using multiple methods, we will develop and test debiasing and depolarization interventions. In one paradigm, people state their view on a polarizing policy, report their attitudes towards people that oppose their policy preference, and then evaluate an argument that is (a) presented either as prose or a visual argument map and (b) either appeals to either their political values or the values of their political opponents. Then participants evaluate the argument to which they were randomly assigned, reiterate their views about the policy (allowing for pre-post analysis), complete measures of argument comprehension, polarization, reasoning ability, and demographics. In another paradigm, research participants complete a task that is designed to lure people toward an intuitively appealing response that is incorrect or unorthodox. Then participants are instructed to reflect on their initial response to figure out the best response by either chatting with another participant who disagreed or else writing a short chat in isolation. After this intervention, participants can change their initial response (and confidence level), and then complete a demographic survey. Results from pilot and pre-registered follow-up studies suggest that argument visualization and disagreement/discussion depolarize and debias people's thinking. Upon submitting the resulting manuscripts for publication, preprints will be uploaded publicly. Upon acceptance, the data, scripts, etc. that were available to reviewers will also be made public.
Project
This project aims to understand reflective reasoning and its role in philosophical thinking. This involves studying how reflection is used in discourse, how it is measured, how it can be normatively valuable (if at all), how it can predict philosophical beliefs, and how it works, psychologically. The title of the project comes from my dissertation, which discusses addresses all of those topics—abstract of each chapter below. However, the project has become a research program that transcends my doctoral research. So I will continue updating this project with research that clarified and extends these investigations of reflective reasoning. 1. Explicating The Concept of Reflection. To understand how ‘reflection’ is used, I consider ordinary, philosophical, and scientific discourse. I find that ‘reflection’ seems to refer to conscious and deliberate reasoning. Subsequent investigation reveals that while reflection is conscious, it need not be self-conscious. Then I offer an empirical explication of reflection’s conscious and deliberate features. These explications not only help explain how reflection can be detected; they also distinguish reflection from nearby concepts such as ruminative and reformative reasoning. After this, I find that reflection is not obviously limited to only practical or only theoretical reasoning. The chapter ends with reasons to prefer ‘unreflective’ and ‘reflective’ to dual process theorists’ labels containing ‘system’ or ‘type’. 2. Bounded Reflectivism & Epistemic Identity. Reflection features centrally in philosophy (e.g., Korsgaard, 1996; Rawls, 1971; Sosa, 1991) and psychology (e.g., Pennycook, 2018; Mercier & Sperber, 2017). Bounded reflectivism is an empirically adequate model of reflection that explains reflection’s capacity to help and hinder reasoning—e.g., reflective equilibrium vs. reflective polarization (e.g., Kahan et al., 2017). One innovation of the model is epistemic identity: an identity that involves particular beliefs—e.g., religious and political identities. When we feel that our epistemic identity is threatened, we can reflectively defend its beliefs rather than search for and submit to the best arguments and evidence. The solution, I argue, is not to suppress epistemic identity but embrace it: appeal to shared, superordinate epistemic identities. 3. All Measures Are Not Created Equal. 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? “10 cents” comes to most people’s minds immediately. However, upon reflection, we can realize that “5 cents” is the correct answer. There are many reflection tests. Each has its limitations. Some reflection tests are mathematical—like the bat-and-ball problem (e.g., Frederick, 2005) and others are logical (e.g., Janis & Frick, 1943). So there are concerns that reflection tests track logical and mathematical competence rather than reflection per se. Also, some psychologists assume a priori that correct answers are reflective and lured answers are unreflective. New evidence raises additional concerns about the plausibility of these assumptions. I argue that think aloud protocols (Ericsson & Simon, 1998) and process dissociation (Jacoby, 1991) can assuage some of these concerns. 4. Great Minds Do Not Think Alike. Two large studies (N = 1299), one pre-registered, found that many correlations between reflection and philosophical beliefs among non-philosophers replicate among philosophers. For example, less reflective philosophers preferred theism to atheism and utilitarian rather than deontological responses to the trolley problem (Hannikainen & Cova, in prep.; Pennycook et al., 2016; Reynolds, Byrd, & Conway, in prep.). However, philosophical judgments were sometimes better predicted by factors like education, gender, and personality than by reflection per se. So although some relationships between reflection and philosophy are robust, there is more to the link between reflection and philosophy than previously understood. Normative implications are also discussed—e.g., how we can infer the quality of philosophical views from their correlations with reflective or unreflective reasoning. 5. What We Can (And Can’t) Infer About Implicit Bias (In Synthese). Contrary to some philosophers and psychologists, I argue that implicit bias is probably associative. However, I also argue that debiasing is not thereby entirely unconscious and involuntary. Indeed, strong evidence suggests that reflection can change implicitly biased behavior—e.g., conscious and deliberate counterconditioning. This has implications for the science and morality of implicit bias—e.g., evidence suggests that we can reform biases; so. intuitively, we can be responsible for biases.