I am a cognitive and social scientist

Humans are similar to other great apes in many ways. Yet the few differences that do exist combine with each another to generate social and cultural systems: languages, politics, institutions, technologies, markets and so on. How and why does this happen? How do the findings of the evolutionary and cognitive sciences connect with the major insights and ideas of the social sciences?

These are the big questions that shape my research, teaching and thinking.

I am especially focused on the case of languages and communication. My first book, Speaking Our Minds, described what is most distinctive about human communication; and how languages are not something apart from other modes of human interaction, but rather the most salient special case, with their own important properties.

I am always happy to talk to journalists and other media professionals about the science of what makes us human. I’ve written for Aeon, Scientific American and The Conversation; I’ve delivered public talks for TEDxBritish Humanist Association and Skeptics In The Pub; and I’ve appeared on podcasts such as Because Language and The Dissenter. You can contact me via twitter. DMs are open.

I am also always happy to hear from prospective graduate students and post-docs.

My undergraduate education was in Maths. My MSc and PhD are in Linguistics. Since then I have held multiple fellowships and senior research positions in departments of Linguistics (Edinburgh), Anthropology (Durham), Cognitive Science (Central European University) and now Philosophy, with Ikerbasque, the Basque Foundation for Science.

In my spare time I dance the lindy hop. Avidly. One day I’ll write a book it.