It’s Tricky to Build an Explanation Machine – Let’s Fix That

What’s stopping scientists from building a machine that provides sensible explanations? Let’s be clear: what we need is a machine that explains simple matters, not free will or the plot of Inception. For instance, how would you respond if I asked you why apples don’t grow underground? Perhaps you’d say, “Because apples are a type […]

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Towards Understanding Real World Explanation: When Explanation meets Argumentation and the Death of Expertise

Explanation matters. Explanation is a central part of coming to an understanding of the world around us. So it is no surprise that the question of what makes “a good explanation” has been a long-standing interest of philosophers, in particular philosophers of science. Their work, in turn, has influenced and motivated psychologists interested in everyday […]

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The Process of Explanations: Context For This Week’s Digital Event

Explanations are crucial to our cognitive lives because they inform our understanding of the world, structure our concepts, and guide our actions. Yet, the processes that underlie explanation remain largely unknown: How do people generate, evaluate, and use explanations? Answering this question is a major challenge, since even a rough specification of the processes involved […]

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The NIH Clinical Trials Issue (continued): A good try but we still have a problem

The NIH has posted a new version of Case 18. If that sentence means nothing to you, you might want to visit my post from last week, “Basic research can be open and transparent without being a clinical trial” in which I summarized the problem with the NIH’s plan to label much of human behavioral […]

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Grandma, where’s Waldo? Comparing Goal-directed and Habit-based Attention in Older Adults

Visual search can be a very daunting task, whether it’s looking for keys among a pile of office supplies on a desk, or looking for a dime among a bunch of coins in your purse. It seems like no matter how many times you have checked and re-checked certain locations, the object of your affection […]

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Asking questions like an Italian: Get quick answers with your hands

What’s the first thing that comes to mind in response to “Italian”? Lots of things probably, from Lamborghini to cannelloni and Bertolucci. Perhaps you also thought of how Italians talk. Even if we don’t speak Italian, we probably know that Italians do a lot of talking with their hands: in case you have any doubt, […]

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Basic research can be open and transparent without being a clinical trial

I would not classify most of my experiments as clinical trials, but now, under NIH rules that become effective in 2018, much of my work along with a significant portion of basic human behavioral research will be classified as clinical trials. This change is motivated by worthy goals but, in its current form, it has […]

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