Episode 3: J.D. Trout

SuchThatCast episode 3: J.D. Trout
SuchThatCast episode 3: J.D. Trout

J.D. Trout
Location: Enschede-Schiphol by train
Duration: Appr. 65 min.

Keywords: Philosophy of science, well-being, psychology, neurophilia, spoken language processing, policy making, technocracy, alchemy, opera, scientific progress.


SuchThatCast goes mobile in the third episode, as I interview J.D. Trout on the appr. 2 hour train ride between Enschede and Schiphol airport. Trout received his PhD in Philosophy at Cornell University and is currently Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at Loyola University Chicago. He was recently awarded the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Romanell Professorship for 2012-13. His chief interests include the nature of scientific explanation, the psychology of human judgment, scientific realism and intellectual progress, and social/political issues bearing on well-being. He has also published work in epistemology and experimental and theoretical work in spoken language processing. In his most recent book, The Empathy Gap,Trout makes the case that a fair and humane democracy in modern times must turn to psychological science to forge policies that correct for people’s natural imperfections and cognitive biases.


I was a little concerned whether an interview on the train would work out, but although editing was a pain with all the background noise and announcement interruptions, the episode turned out to contain everything I want out of this podcast: a fascinating and inspiring background story, deeply interesting and more or less unpublished philosophical ideas, a flowing conversation, and the occasional chuckle – all in the voice of an opera singer. Trout talks about a past filled with challenging circumstances and hard work as far removed from philosophy as possible, the importance of psychological research for policy making, the remarkably interesting field of speech recognition, the contingency of scientific progress as exemplified by corpuscularism and alchemy, and a host of other interesting topics. I hope you’ll like this conversation as much as I did.

Background Information and links related to this episode:

  • You will get most out of this episode if you at least know a little bit about Trout’s philosophy. For starters, have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J.D._Trout
  • Trout’s homepage, with more background information and many of his papers freely available.
  • J.D. talking about his latest book, the Empathy gap, on Chicago tonight.


Cite this podcast?

  • Søraker, J.H. (Producer). (2012, September 17). Episode 3: J.D. Trout (audio podcast). SuchThatCast. Podcast retrieved from http://suchthatcast.com/Trout
  • Use hashtag #SuchThatCast for tweets, blog posts, pictures and other posts related to this podcast.

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3 thoughts on “Episode 3: J.D. Trout”

  1. I have a feeling I could get along well with J.D., and not just for the “typical young-boys interest in Nietzche” (I assure you no Nietzche was ever read in the parts of town I grew up in) and the “people are stupid” remarks. 😉

    It’s especially heartening for me to see through which twisted ways people come to a career in philosophy.

    1. Thanks. Yes, that’s why I’m so (in many listeners minds, probably too) interested in their background – some of the most interesting philosophers I know come from pretty crazy backgrounds..

Questions, comments suggestions?