News


Helena Miton, Nicolas Claidière and I have a cool new paper out in which we try to explain why bloodletting was such a popular practice.

With several colleagues, we have a new paper out showing that people dramatically underestimate the benefits of argumentation to solve a standard reasoning tasks. Funnily, even psychologists of reasoning -- who otherwise know the task like the palm of their hand -- underestimate the performance of groups.

Our research with Emmanuel Sander and Emmanuel Trouche on arguments and confidence in group reasoning will appear in JEP:G. We show that when groups discuss intellective tasks (such as logical or mathematical problems), when someone has the right answer, she (nearly) always convinces her peers, even if she's not the most confident group member and if they all agree on the wrong answer. This offers a nice demonstration of argumentative competence.

Our paper with Fabrice Clément and Stéphane Bernard, on children's ability to evaluate arguments, has been picked up by BPS Research Digest, the Austrian ORF, and the BBC World Service.

The 2014 Edge question is out: "What scientific idea is ready for retirement?" Here are many brilliant answers (and here's mine).

Fabrice Clément, Stéphane Bernard and I have a new paper (nearly) out on the way young children evaluate arguments. We found that 3- to 5-year-olds were more influenced by a strong argument than by a circular one -- although the answers of some 4- and 5-year suggest they also find circular arguments quite persuasive. 

Le Temps published a piece on the debate surrounding Pinker's paper on scientism -- unfortunately, it was written a while before it was published, and doesn't reflect later developments in the debate.

Back in Neuchâtel thanks to a 3 year Ambizione grant.

David McRaney of You Are Not So Smart and I talk about the argumentative theory here.

Ophelia Deroy and I published an article in Le Monde about scientific collaboration.

The study Brent Strickland and I recently published (see previous paragraph) has been picked up by James Gilbert, who writes about it in The Conversation (also in The Hindu) (for the record, we don't exactly show that people take financial incentives into account when evaluating even a flawless study, rather than they take financial incentives into account more than another source of potential bias--one's prior hypotheses. The quality of the study wasn't varied in the relevant experiment).

Brent Strickland and I conducted a series of studies on the perception of potential bias in science. We show that people think scientists can be biased when they find results that fit with their hypotheses... but that they accept the conclusion just as well as when the scientists' results don't fit with their hypotheses. By contrast, people take financial motivation into account when evaluating the scientists' conclusions. Here's the pre-copy edited version.

Zocalo, a South California organization that helps people discuss and share their ideas, awarded Jon Haidt a book prize for The Righteous Mind, and they invited me to join in the discussion.

Taking part in a wonderful discussion in Windsor with argumentation scholars. The organizers -- Steve Patterson, Chris Tindale and Doug Walton -- the panelists -- Mark AakhusLori BuchananIan Hacking, and Burkhard Schafer  -- and the public made for great debates. Thanks to Brian Cowan, the talk is now available online.

Just starting at my new position at the L2C2 in Lyon.

A nice post in Internet Actu, a Le Monde blog: Sommes-nous câblés pour argumenter ?

A little while ago, Irina Almgren and I talked about the argumentative theory of reasoning and related topics. You can listen to the discussion on her podcast Open Questions.

Dan Jones has a good piece in New Scientist about the argumentative theory: The Argumentative Ape.

Asher Koriat published a paper in Science showing that in some cases discussion is unnecessary to advantageously combine opinions. Instead of letting people with two different opinions on a perceptual task talk with each other to figure out an answer, it may be just as efficient to ask for their confidence and take the answer of the most confident group member. While it's great to have practical means of opinion aggregation, this result shouldn't let us forget that in many cases, a group gets at a better solution not because they follow the most confident individual, but because they accept the best arguments -- as we pointed out in a letter to Science.

Our paper Is the use of averaging in advice taking modulated by culture?” is officially published, by the Journal of Cognition and Culture. We show that Japanese and French participants use the same heuristics when taking advice into account. Both groups tend to underuse the efficient averaging, relying instead of a simple strategy of choosing either their own initial opinion or the advice (maybe you can guess which of these two is chosen more often...).

Brent Strickland and I have a new paper accepted about how people use social clues to evaluate arguments. It will appear in a special issue of Thinking and Reasoning dedicated to argumentation, under the superb editorship of Ulrike Hahn and Jos Hornikx.


I'm starting a new postdoc at the University of Neuchâtel! (as well as this 'News' page)

(picture found on Wikimedia commons)


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