Welcome! This site is my personal site where you can find updates on my writing as well as my thinking about science, clinical progress, and science fiction.
The blog portion of this site focuses on a variety of subjects, but mostly it focuses on philosophy of science. This is not as boring as it sounds when you realize you engage with it every day. You're playing around with these principles every day whether you realize it or not. Take a few quick examples:
- This morning I read about some new study that 'shows' something surprising; how much can I trust it?
- Does everything cause cancer?
- What's with antioxidants and other supplements? What about the vitamins I took with breakfast?
- What do the ingredients in that special shampoo really do for my hair?
- When are we going to cure cancer?
- When can I trust a scientist/doctor/expert, and when should I be skeptical?
My intention is to make sense of these questions, to change the way you view them. Eventually, you'll be asking different kinds of questions, thinking like a scientist, and finding the answers on your own. In the following posts I'm going to relate a few stories, ideas, and heuristics you can use to answer many of these questions, or at least point in the right direction.
Part of the reason I'm writing this is as a shorthand. I keep giving the same advice to friends about how to talk to their physician so they get the most out of their visit to the clinic. Instead of repeating this over again, I'm putting it all up here as a quick resource to point people to, along with many other useful concepts. But a quick Google search should bring up a good website or video that tells you how to choose and talk to a good physician. I want to build out principles and ideas that you can generalize to reduce the number of times you have to do that search, or at least to make the search more targeted and productive.
I'll use some specific examples, but the ideas here are intended to be universal. Whether you're trying to understand whether to pay extra for some additive in your bottle of lotion, you're designing a groundbreaking experiment in the lab, or you're trying to write believable science fiction, the same principles apply. They're ideas even the most careful scientists need to be reminded of again and again so we don't take shortcuts and make mistakes. Often the barrier between a scientist and a great discovery is an error that has been perpetuated because even we forget basic scientific principles sometimes.
Why the focus on science?
I'm a scientist. I used to work in a lab every day, and now I do clinical cancer research. I love science for the same reasons so many other people became enthralled with the subject. Discovery is its own reward.
Although philosophy and history of science will fill most of these posts, with an aim to understand the world better and to understand how to create fictional worlds better, some posts will likely be about other subjects as well. I will likely change my mind about some of the ideas presented here. This is the internet, so I know there's a small chance anything I say can go viral and taken out of context. Even so I reserve the right to be wrong. If there's one thing we learn from the scientific method, it's to continually test and share our hypotheses. To keep trying, not to prove them right, but to prove them wrong.
To keep all your ideas inside out of fear of being wrong is to never refine your thinking to be more accurate. Fear of being wrong will ensure you stay wrong.