Essays & blogposts

Languages & the Necker cube (2021).
Essay for Inference: International Review of Science, about the findings of animal ‘linguistics’ and what they tell us—and what they don’t tell us—about human language (reply to Riny Huybregts, ‘Babbling birds’).

The design of institutions & the design of the mind (2021).
Blogpost at International Cognition & Culture Institute about organising the public sphere to fit the design of the mind.

Open science, open society (2019).
Blogpost at International Cognition & Culture Institute about similarities in epistemic practice between politicians – especially conspiracy theorists – and scientists.

Of Gods and Platypuses: Is there a science of culture? (2018).
Short piece in Scientific American outlining the idea that any natural science of culture should be (will be) epidemiological in character.

IQ tests are not like tape measures (2018).
A short essay in which I argue that although we talk about IQ as if it’s like, say, height, it’s really like size. It’s an abstract idealisation and not a physically measurable thing. (I’d like to publish a version of this. Please get in touch if you know of a suitable outlet.)

How human are the dehumanised? (2017).
Blogpost at International Cognition & Culture Institute suggesting that dehumanisation might be a misnamed phenomenon.

More than words (2016).
Longform essay for Aeon, about the diversity of human communication, and in particular on how art can do some things that languages can’t.

Infections of the mind: Why anti-vaxxers just ‘know’ they’re right (2015).
Short essay for The Conversation about why anti-vaccination arguments are so intuitively appealing.
(Republished: IFL Science, New Zealand Herald, many others.)
(Media coverage: The Agenda with Steve Paikin.)

What is art? A pragmatic perspective (2015).
Essay for the journal Think, looking at art from the perspective of how human communication works.

Précis of Speaking Our Minds (2015).
Précis opening a two-week online book club about Speaking Our Minds, hosted by the International Cognition & Culture Institute.

Unique: Humans and language (2014).
Summary of some of my research on language origins, for the Durham University alumni magazine, Durham First.

On communication and culture (2013).
Interview about the evolutionary origins of communication and culture, for The New Evolutionary Enlightenment.

The origins of human communication (2012).
Summary for The Psychologist of some of my PhD research, for which I was awarded the BPS Outstanding Doctoral Research Prize.