Adventures in Ethics and Science

First, from the Seed Overlords:

You may have noticed some pretty yellow banner ads around the site this week. They’re advertising a huge reader survey that we’re conducting right now. Anyone (excepting Seed employees) who fills it out can enter to win an iPod and MacBook Air.

The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete. Here’s the survey page:

Then, following the lead of Ed, Bora, DrugMonkey, and Alice, I’d like to invite the readers of this blog, from regular commenters to committed lurkers, to check in.

Tell us who you are, what brings you here, and what brings you back. What do you like reading about here? What topics would you like to see more of?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!


  1. #1 Methuselah
    August 7, 2008

    Hello Janet,

    I came across your blog because someone on another blog linked to your post This food doesn’t taste right … or is it me?.

    I am interested in the philosophy and ethics of diet/nutrition and write a blog which takes a sideways look the factors affecting our attitute to these things. Your article struck a real chord with me as it highlights the fact that science can be both a help and a hinderance. On the one hand science encourages us to believe that there are always shortcuts (artificial sweeteners, carb blockers, statins etc) as alternatives to a simple healthy diet (The Professor Diet – Eat as Much Junk as you like). Yet on the other it has the potential through things like manipulating our perception of taste, to allow us to eat a healthy diet but enjoy the taste associated with an unhealthy one. This raises interesting questions about where the doctrine of self-discipline normally associated with healthy eating would be if such a science were perfected. I intend to expand on this point in my next post and link to your article, so if you find time to take a look I’d be interested in your thoughts.

    All the best,

    Pay Now Live Later

  2. #2 waterrocks
    August 7, 2008

    I’m a lurker, but I love this blog for getting me to smile (mostly the sprog posts) and to think (most of the other posts), both of which I enjoy — thanks! My favourite posts apart from the sprogs are those that tackle a specific question in philosophy or ethics: I remember particularly liking the one on capital punishment, for example. Lots of food for thought.

    My info: I’m female, I’ve recently left high school here in the UK, and assuming Results Day next week turns out as planned, I’ll be going to uni to study Spanish and Russian this coming autumn.

  3. #3 MyaR
    August 7, 2008

    Hi Janet,

    I post very infrequently, but have been a committed lurker for at least a year. I don’t remember how I initially found you, but I do remember the sudden realization that philosophy of science was incredibly interesting, when before it was sort of hazy and far-off and not all that immediate. And, of course, the Sprog Blogs are full of awesome.

    As for me, I’m an Information Professional (which means I have parlayed some knowledge of math and a background in linguistics into a fairly interesting job creating an NLP categorization system for news). This makes reading stuff on the internet Part of My Job, so there’s always an excuse to be reading Scienceblogs, which has some of the most interesting day-to-day reading on the internet. I also enjoy the slices of academic life, getting a little vicarious thrill (or feeling of relief) at the might-have-beens, having originally intended to follow my linguistics/anthropology undergrad with grad school. (Dreams dashed by Financial Concerns.)

  4. #4 Carrie
    August 7, 2008

    I am a PhD former-academic now-industry scientist type. The ‘industry’ is engineering, which makes your discussions of the tribe and language of science relevant and interesting to my daily interactions. In addition, I am the Ethics Officer at our site, and while we don’t have many issues in the realm of research ethics, it is good to keep up on the latest topics in that arena.

    Finally, I’m a mom and spouse with kids near the age of your sprogs, so I find the Sprog Blogging great fodder for discussions with my own children — I thank you mightily for that!

  5. #5 Carrie
    August 7, 2008

    I forgot to add in my prior comment — I also read this blog because I found Super Sally’s journey incredibly inspiring.

  6. #6 Alan Kellogg
    August 7, 2008

    More art from Elder Tax Deduction would be nice. 🙂

  7. #7 Donalbain
    August 8, 2008

    My name is Donalbain and I am a Ethicsaholic. I just cant live withouth ethicsahol!

    I am a high school scientist who previously worked in a field where ethics was a rather dirty word. I came here because you were near the top of the little scrolling menu thing on the right. I come here because the sprog stuff is funny and the other stuff is interesting. I is also well eloquent and stuff.

  8. #8 Donalbain
    August 8, 2008

    My name is Donalbain and I am a Ethicsaholic. I just cant live withouth ethicsahol!

    I am a high school science teacher who previously worked in a field where ethics was a rather dirty word. I came here because you were near the top of the little scrolling menu thing on the right. I come here because the sprog stuff is funny and the other stuff is interesting. I is also well eloquent and stuff.

  9. #9 eddie
    August 8, 2008

    Hi Dr Free-ride,

    I’m from scotLand and, while I have a science degree with mainly physics and maths modules, I work in computer systems for a living. I help support publishing systems and all related IT for a major newspaper. That’s just a hobby as physics is my main interest. Unfortunately I have a math weakness that prevented me doing physics at post-grad level.

    I found science blogs from reading about the pro/anti string theory debate and coming across a bit of a flame war on cosmicvariance and then found on gmbm that not only was there a debate among theorists, but there were also a load of @#&€ claiming that even relativity is wrong, except that all the good results were down to some fairy or other, and I was hooked. Your own blog got to me with another fracas between sciences and humanities.

    ta – eddie

  10. #10 Leftfield
    August 8, 2008

    Hello Dr. Free-Ride-

    Frequent lurker. Not a scientist. I have an almost 7-year-old science-loving sprog at home, so I most enjoy the sprog blogging.

  11. #11 MikeP
    August 8, 2008

    By night, I’m a phil/psych student who’s interested primarily in ethics and cognitive science, although I have a degree in history. By day, I work as a system administrator for a bunch of computer science types. I think I found your blog originally through a link from another philosophy blog saying hey, this person talks about ethics and science, you should check her out. I liked the first few posts I read enough that I stuck around. I’d like to see more posts on, well, the ethics of science, although I find your insight into academia interesting as well; I hear more from you about it than I do from the professors with whom I work!

  12. #12 Nick Barrowman
    August 8, 2008

    Hi Janet,

    I’ve been reading your blog on and off for a couple of years now. I enjoy the variety of topics you write about.

    I’m a statistician and I work in medical research. I’m particularly interested in science and philosophy. (The biggest hole in my science education is probably chemistry! But I recently bought a copy of The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry …)

    Anyway, keep up the great blogging!

  13. #13 Super Sally
    August 9, 2008

    Most people know that I tune in often to catch up on what my daughter is doing, and thinking about. And I often cannot help but post a comment.

    Of course, Fridays’ reports on the doings at Casa Free-Ride are our favorites.

    And thanks, Carrie.

  14. #14 Theo Bromine
    August 9, 2008

    I’m an almost 50-year-old female electrical engineer, with a life-long interest in things scientific and philosophical (and plans to study cognitive neuroscience, post-retirement). A free-thinker all my life, I have recently become an atheist, and I am interested in how ethics works with rationalism. (But I must confess that I also come here to indulge in nostalgia as I read about your sprogs – my own are recent college/university graduates, and pretty much all grown up now.)

  15. #15 Nat Blair
    August 11, 2008

    I’m a postdoc, doing research, and honestly I can’t quite remember where I came across the blog, but I have been lurking, and infrequently commenting, for some time now.

    I’m very interested in two topics that you cover: science and ethics (hmm, what was the blog name again…), and epistemology. I’m especially interested in how the practice of science interacts with the production of knowledge, and whether/how we might alter the practice to improve the product (phew, say that 5 times fast).

    Oh, that and I’m looking for any ammo for when I’m up on my hobby horse shouting justifications for why I like my science the way I do it! 😉

  16. #16 Beth
    August 11, 2008

    I’m a lurker… and a PhD student. Before starting my PhD I thought about a career in ethics, but decided I could keep that as a side interest while I pursued other things. I love ethics, I love science, I love reading about women in science — and hearing the stories about your kids is great too! (Not a topic I’m generally interested in, the interactions you have with them and things you do are just so cool! Very inspirational!). The diversity and well thought out posts of this blog are what keep me coming back.

  17. #17 decrepitoldfool
    August 11, 2008

    I’m a non-scientist, university tech-support geek (definitely low end of totem pole) and I found your blog name very descriptive. The usefulness of science as a public policy input depends on its credibility and ethical supportability. So yeah – it’s an interesting subject and you cover it really well.

  18. #18 Jude
    August 12, 2008

    I read several science blogs. I suppose I relate well to yours because I’m a mom, so I enjoy Friday Sprog Blogging, and I’m interested in ethics. Also, you write well.

  19. #19 Muse142
    August 14, 2008

    I’d like to second every commenter above me. You make science seem even more interesting than it already is, you are very level headed, calm, and being a woman helps (as I tire of the sexism inherent in the system). Oh, and sprog blogging is indeed full of awesome.

    I’d like to see more of pretty much anything you write. =)

  20. #20 blatnoi
    September 3, 2008

    Well, I’m not going to introduce myself, besides saying that I read this blog from time to time. I was actually interested in your take on the following story:

    Thanks in advance.

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