Twitter used to simply be a social media app in which one can communicate with their friends. In recent years, it has transformed into a public sphere to exchange ideas as well as share data and news. Anybody with even a minor interest in psychology or other academic disciplines may stumble upon some intriguing accounts. But it isn’t always easy to find the good ones.
Something unique to the academics included in the lists below is the fact that they’re free-thinkers. They don’t accept fallacious theories just because they paint human nature in a brighter light. They don’t push feel-good ideas absent of evidence to score political points. They follow reason and evidence wherever it takes them.
All of these accounts were taken from my larger (70+) list on Twitter titled ‘Interesting Individuals.’ To begin, here are the best academic Twitter accounts that are not verified, with sample tweet(s) from a few of them:
1. Lee Jussim — Dr. Jussim is a social psychology professor, founding member of Heterodox Academy and rabble rouser at Psychology Today. He tends to discuss his research as well as converse with various other professors and students on Twitter which makes for informative reading. Something one will often see on Dr. Jussim’s feed is long, data-filled threads on topics he’s knowledgeable in. His blog focuses largely on ideological bias in psychology and the replication crisis. This psychology professor is definitely worth following.
a. The start to an extensive thread on bias in academia
2. James Lindsay — Dr. Lindsay holds a Ph.D. in mathematics and has a background in physics. He has recently released a book titled How to Have Impossible Conversations and has another available for pre-order titled Cynical Theories. He often discusses and critiques many of the topics in his upcoming book with Helen Pluckrose such as critical theory and postmodern thought.
3. Helen Pluckrose — Ms. Pluckrose is a feminist, editor-in-chief of Areo Magazine and an exile from the humanities. She often discuses critical theory and postmodern thought alongside Lindsay, which she also wrote Cynical Theories with. Pluckrose, with Lindsay and professor Boghossian, were also at the heart of the Grievance Studies scandal that exposed some identity-related academic disciplines for having a very poor peer-review process.
a. Helen pointing out the weaknesses in the modern social justice movement
4. Steve Stewart-Williams — Dr. Williams is a psychology professor and researcher that focuses on evolutionary biology and its relation to psychology. For one who isn’t immensely interested in academic psychology but still enjoys learning the interesting aspects to it, this psychologist is a perfect follow. He is one of the most entertaining accounts on Twitter, period. Not convinced? Here just a few of his most recent tweets I’ve retweeted:
a. Cultural evolution
b. Identifiable traits in left and right-wing extremists
c. The true scale of living things
d. Evidence that apes have a theory-of-mind like humans
e. Mind-controlled prosthetic arm technology
5. Colin Wright — Dr. Wright holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and much of his research focuses on social insects and personality. His twitter feed is interesting with respect to his discussion of evolution and culture issues. Dr. Wright also wrote my favorite piece in Quillette titled ‘The New Evolution Deniers, which describes how the right-wing has traditionally denied evolution but that the left-wing is beginning to do the same.
6. Diana Fleischman — Dr. Fleischman, nicknamed ‘monkey girl’ at age 12 for having a major interest in evolution, earned her Ph.D. working under David Buss and is now an evolutionary psychologist. She is in a polyamorous relationship with Geoffrey Miller, who is also an evolutionary psychologist.
7. Nicholas Christakis — Dr. Christakis is a sociologist, physician and runs the Human Nature lab at Yale University. He came into the public eye (with his wife Erika Christakis) when he defended freedom of expression on campus at both Yale and Harvard.
8. Nicole Barbaro — Ms. Barbaro is currently a Ph.D. student in psychology and teaches at Oakland University in Michigan. On Twitter, she talks a lot about evolution and even her personal experiences as a teacher. Here’s an example of the kind of research you’ll often see on her feed:
a. Data on how early-start times affect children’s academic performance
The accounts listed above are great despite them being relatively unpopular and unverified. Though some of those above have a large following, most of them are still ‘up-and-coming.’ Most of the following accounts are quite well-known, but are nevertheless talking about certain things that are certainly not mainstream. That makes for some interesting conversation though. Here are the verified ones:
1. Sam Harris — Dr. Harris is a neuroscientist and philosopher who often discusses topics ranging from evolutionary psychology and behavior genetics to global individual rights and freedoms. He also runs the Making Sense Podcast in which he interviews academics and other important figures about the most relevant and interesting topics of our time.
2. Scott Barry Kaufman — Dr. Kaufman is an American psychologist and podcaster who is primarily recognized for his work on intelligence and creativity. He participated in the scientific controversy (documented here) around presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s claim that one’s cognitive abilities can vary based on one’s environmental circumstances (like living in poverty). Intelligence researcher Richard Haier (another great account to follow) holds a different view on this matter.
3. Jordan Peterson — Dr. Peterson is a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto. He runs a podcast and focuses on ideas from postmodernism to the psychology of the biblical stories.
4. Jonathan Haidt — Dr. Haidt is a social psychologist who researches morality and moral emotions. He discusses his theory of moral foundations in his book The Righteous Mind, which is one of the most important books in modern politics.
a. Parental norms to adopt
b. “Free range Friday’s”
5. Bret Weinstein — Dr. Weinstein was a professor of biology (alongside his wife Heather Heying) at Evergreen State College in Washington state, a school I may have attended had I not moved to Michigan. He got shouted down by students after he appeared on campus despite it being a culturally enforced day of absence for all white people, and eventually left his job. Bret frequently tweets in disagreement with other academics. I especially respect Bret for pushing back against far-right self-help Trumpist Stefan ‘I’ve been skeptical of white nationalism, however, I’m an empiricist’ Molyneux, as shown in his tweets below. Dr. Weinstein also hosts the ‘Dark Horse’ podcast.
a. Pushing back against Molyneux
b. More pushing back against Molyneux
6. Eric Weinstein — Dr. Weinstein, brother of Brett, earned his Ph.D. in mathematical physics at Harvard University. He hosts the podcast The Portal, in which appearances are made by anybody ranging from presidential candidates to philosophers and academics.
7. Geoffrey Miller — Dr. Miller is an evolutionary psychologist and professor at the University of New Mexico. He has written several books including his popular The Mating Mind and the recently released Virtue Signaling. Dr. Miller is in a polyamorous relationship with Diana Fleischman, who is also an evolutionary psychologist. Below is my brief discussion with him regarding the popular theory of multiple intelligences:
8. Christina Hoff Sommers — Dr. Sommers is a feminist and taught philosophy, which she holds a Ph.D. in, at Clark University. She is currently a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and runs the podcast ‘Femsplainers.’
9. Peter Boghossian — Dr. Boghossian is an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University. He just published a new book titled How to Have Impossible Conversations, which is an important book in our time of deep political polarization.
10. Claire Lehmann — Ms. Lehmann is the founding editor of Quillette. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and was attending graduate school. After having and child and deciding to pursue her own academic interests that to some degree contradicted the dominant narrative in academia, she decided to drop out and create her own publication. Ms. Lehmann’s Twitter feed is often full of academic discussion, culture war issues and responses to criticism of her publication and its articles.
a. An example of Claire responding to Nassim Taleb’s claim that behavior genetics is ‘largely a fraud’
These lists of academics (or participants in academic discussion) were constructed in no particular order and are incomplete (a more full list can be found on Twitter here), as there are still a variety of great accounts that were not included here. These accounts in particular, however, have introduced me to a variety of very fascinating academic discussions. For academics, students and those generally interested in social science, these accounts are worth checking out. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find them both entertaining and highly informative.