Laboratory for Social Minds

The Lab for Social Minds studies the present and past of the human species to better understand its future.

Working together, we undertake empirical investigations, and build mathematical theories, of both historical and contemporary phenomena. We range from the centuries-long timescales of cultural evolution to the second-by-second emergence of social hierarchy in the non-human animals, from the editors of Wikipedia to the French Revolution to the gas stations of Indiana. We create synthetic, deep-time accounts of major transitions in political order, with the goal of the predicting and understanding our species’ future. Read more.

In the past ten years, we have mentored over twenty-five graduate-level researchers; they have gone on to a diverse range of academic careers including cognitive science, economics, sociology, information sciences, biophysics, mathematics, computer science, ethology, anthropology, and theology. In the past five years, our researchers have been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the Hertz Graduate Fellowship, and the Rhodes Scholarship, and prize postdoctoral fellowships at a number of Universities in the U.S..

For research coming out of the lab, see Google Scholar for the most up-to-date list, including links where possible to open-access PDFs. You can also follow our Twitter announcement feed.

Simon DeDeo

I am the William S. Dietrich II Career Development Chair in Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute (SFI). I was previously affiliated with CNetS and the Cognitive Science Program as faculty at Indiana University. Prior to that, I was an Omidyar Fellow at SFI. Depending on your career stage, I draw your attention to opportunities at SFI, including both the Omidyar Fellowship and the SFI Complex Systems Summer School.

The basic science in our lab has been supported by a diverse range of funders including the John Templeton Foundation, the Templeton World Charity Foundation, the Survival and Flourishing Fund, the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Office, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a number of private donors interested in the ways that a deeper understanding of culture and cognition can make us better thinkers, reasoners, and participants in society.

Ingenious, an interview to accompany When Theft was Worse than Murder.

SFIHMM, optimized C code for estimating hidden Markov models, Perron-Perron Cluster Analysis, and Viteri path reconstruction.

PyRated, python code for building efficient rate-distortion codebooks.

THOTH, a python package for the efficient estimation of information-theoretic quantities, is in development.

Notes (now including lecture video) useful to students at the Complex Systems Summer School at the Santa Fe Institute are online. Information Theory for Intelligent People is a short and simple PDF written for past Summer Schools that has found a following; a similar document, Bayesian Reasoning for Intelligent People, is also now available.

At SFI, I ran a blue sky seminar series, a.k.a. reckless ideas. Work on humanistic topics has its own section. Records of the Undecidables, a group interested in questions of self-reference in mathematics and society, are also available.

Finally, my curriculum vitæ is available.

Simon DeDeo
Porter Hall 219B, Social and Decision Sciences
sdedeo [at]
I no longer have any personal social media accounts. If you're visiting here from Twitter, Facebook or another social media site, please see an informal blogpost about why deleting (all) your social media accounts might be for you.

photo credit: John D. Norton

"But the placing of the cap-sheaf to all this blundering business was reserved for the scientific Frederick Cuvier, brother to the famous Baron. In 1836, he published a Natural History of Whales, in which he gives what he calls a picture of the Sperm Whale. Before showing that picture to any Nantucketer, you had best provide for your summary retreat from Nantucket. In a word, Frederick Cuvier's Sperm Whale is not a Sperm Whale, but a squash. Of course, he never had the benefit of a whaling voyage (such men seldom have), but whence he derived that picture, who can tell?"

Moby Dick, Chapter LV, "Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales"

photographer unknown; see

The First Rule of Second Foundation is “you don’t talk about Second Foundation.”