I am a cognitive scientist pursuing both theoretical and empirical research. I am best known for many contributions to evolutionary linguistics, but I have also published on key topics in language acquisition, philosophy of mind, art theory, social cognition and cultural evolution. This range appears diverse but one way or another, all my research is concerned with the foundations of cognition and culture. How do many individual moments of interaction generate macro-patterns of culture and society? What socio-cognitive capacities make this possible?
My first book, Speaking Our Minds, is about the evolution of human communication. It links signalling theory from evolutionary biology with cognitive pragmatics, to argue that intention-reading (or mindreading) has been primary to the evolution of human communication. Language use is not something apart from other modes of human communication and expression, but rather the most salient special case, with its own distinctive and important properties. See here for details and reviews.
I’ve written short pieces for outlets such as Aeon, Scientific American, The Conversation; and I’ve given public talks for TEDx, British Humanist Association, Skeptics In The Pub, Digital Science and others.
In my spare time I dance the lindy hop. Avidly.