Lisa Bortolotti in May 2013, after receiving the happy news that she had been awarded an AHRC Fellowship for a project entitled "The Epistemic Innocence of Imperfect Cognitions". The core idea of the project was to see whether a variety of cognitions (beliefs primarily, but also memories, narratives and explanations) could enhance knowledge even when they were inaccurate or ill-grounded.
The main audience for the blog was then (and still is) people interested in themes at the intersection of philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry, and contributors have ranged from masters students to distinguished professors, from all over the world, who are doing research that is relevant to the investigation of the epistemic benefits of inaccurate cognitions. Lisa's expertise at the time was mainly in delusions, and the first posts reflect this, being often contributions to the philosophical debates concerning delusions (the very first post was by Kengo Miyazono, talking about delusions as malfunctioning beliefs).
Since October 2013, Ema Sullivan-Bissett came on board to commission, edit and contribute posts to the blog. Initially, it was quite a struggle to find a post a week to keep the blog active, but soon the readership of the blog increased and Lisa and Ema were in a position to schedule posts weeks in advance, not only highlighting new relevant research, but also offering reports on recent events (conferences and workshops) and asking authors to introduce their recent books to the broad, interdisciplinary audience of the blog.
PERFECT. Although the project builds upon Lisa and Ema's previous research, it has a much wider scope, openly addressing not just the epistemic benefits of inaccurate cognitions, but also their pragmatic and psychological benefits, and aiming to impact on mental health policy by challenging the stigma often associated with having a psychiatric diagnosis. Magdalena Antrobus, PhD student on Project PERFECT, also joined the blog editorial team and she oversaw a new blog feature, interviews with experts, which quickly proved very popular (Magdalena successfully defended her PhD thesis in November 2017 and is now Dr Antrobus).
With increased capacity, the blog became more structured and the scheduling of the posts far more reliable. We started publishing research posts on Tuesdays and conference reports, book presentations, or interviews on Thursdays. On mental health awareness days or weeks we may feature additional posts highlighting an issue or a question, and we also host accounts by experts-by-experience, people with lived experience of mental health challenges.
In October 2015 a new research fellow, Kathy Puddifoot, started overseeing the Thursday posts and Lisa embarked on a new project on Costs and Benefits of Optimism (with another new research fellow, Anneli Jefferson). This meant a further expansion for the blog and a wider coverage, including literature on memory, implicit cognitions, and optimism, all themes that were already routinely discussed as part of the Tuesday research posts but that became more prominently featured.
From October 2016 the blog saw a further development, with Andrea Polonioli overseeing the Tuesday research posts and the new PERFECT post-doctoral fellow, Sophie Stammers, and the new PERFECT PhD student, Valeria Motta, taking over the Thursday features. Reflecting Andrea's interests in cognitive biases and rationality, the range of original research posts increased and under Sophie's management interviews with experts were given greater visibility and attracted many new viewers. From October 2017 to September 2018 Kathy Puddifoot took over the commissioning and editing of Tuesday posts and Valeria of the Thursday features. Reflecting their respective interests, more space was offered on the blog to scholars exploring memory and confabulation, affective and emotional states as well as cognition, and phenomenological and existential approaches to health and wellbeing. In 2018/2019 Sophie managed the Tuesday posts and a team of research assistants (Alex Miller Tate, Matilde Aliffi, and Eugenia Lancellotta) supported me with the commissioning, scheduling, and promoting of the Thursday posts.
From October 2019, with project PERFECT now completed and my excellent collaborators all moved on, I will continue managing the blog and schedule one new post a week, alternating research updates and features to ensure that a wide range of topics are represented and main developments in the literature tracked. To the topics dearest to the blog, I will add a new one: the power of stories in public debates, an issue that I am actively researching and that belongs to the fast expanding field of political epistemology.
The adventure continues...