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Nick
Enfield

Linguist, Thinker, Author, and Ig Nobel Laureate

Profile

Nick Enfield is professor of linguistics at the University of Sydney and director of the Sydney Social Science and Humanities Advanced Research Centre. He is head of a Research Excellence Initiative on The Crisis of Post-Truth Discourse. His research on language, culture, cognition and social life is based on long term field work in mainland Southeast Asia, especially Laos.

Nick is an expert on human language, communication, culture, and mind, and has a special interest in how the bugs and biases in our thought processes affect our beliefs and decisions. He directed the research team which discovered that “Huh?” is a universal human word - perhaps the only universal word ever identified. This, along with his many other discoveries and achievements in the science of language, culture, and mind, are found in the 18 books and more than 150 scholarly articles that he has published during the last 20 years.

He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, the Royal Society of New South Wales, and the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Nick has published widely in linguistics, anthropology, and cognitive science venues, and has written for the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, the Wall Street Journal, and Science.

Expertise
Talking Points

Overcoming the Biases and Limitations of The Mind

The human mind is brilliant and yet seriously flawed. I break down the key limitations of how we think, and lay out some ways in which we can avoid and exploit our limitations for better outcomes.

What is Truth, Why it Matters, and How to Talk About It

Truth matters. A lot. But it is not easy to get at the truth, especially in this age of polarized discourse. I outline the cultural changes we need in order to talk well, reason well, and make good decisions for all.

The Surprising Science of Conversation: What Makes Language Unique

I describe my award-winning research on the unique and surprising elements of human language that distinguish us from the other animals: the inner workings of conversation, from 'um' to 'Huh?'
Topics

Lifestyle & Wellbeing

  • Mental Health
  • Society, Culture and The Arts

Politics & Advocacy

  • Leadership
  • Reputation
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