Adventures in Ethics and Science

In a lot of ways, the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge is a community endeavor. It is all about what you, our community of readers, can accomplish together for public school students and teachers in need. Also, it’s a great example of how citizens of the blogosphere think about community — not just a group of people clustered geographically, but people we’re connected to by common interests and values.

While you’re working together to make things better for school kids in classrooms across the fifty United States, you can also work together toward what Chad calls a ‘big incentive’. Chad is offering a ‘big incentive’ if donors get his challenge to its goal of $6,000, although it’s not quite clear at this point just what that ‘big incentive’ will be. The current contenders include Chad dancing like a monkey, slipping a dialogue with his dog into the abstract of his next peer-reviewed publication, or growing full mutton-chop whiskers.

Competitive git that I am, I figured I should offer some big incentives, too. In order to tell you about those, first I need to introduce you to my midlife crisis.


The iconic “woman chemist” here (that’s a bubbling Erlenmeyer flask in her hand) is my first — and only — tattoo. Despite what some people will tell you about tattoos being addictive, what with the rush of endorphins and all, mine involved 1.5 hours of lip-biting pain that made me nostalgic for childbirth.

However, my tribal marking only captures one piece of my tribal affiliation. My membership in the tribe of philosophers of science does not present itself on my skin.

So here’s the deal:

If my challenge raises $4,000, I will get a design representing the philosophy of science tattooed just above my left ankle. (Donors are, of course, invited to chime in on what design this ought to be. I’m partial to historical diagrams, but in the interests of symmetry with the existing tattoo, the new one should not exceed three inches in diameter.)

Alternatively, my mom can fund my challenge to $4,000 and I won’t get the projected tattoo.

And, since I’m willing to deal with my own individual pain in the service of the greater good, I offer a second big incentive independent of the first:

If the total donations across all the challenges mounted by ScienceBloggers exceed $90,000, I will get that spiffy Sb logo tattooed on the nape of my neck. (I’ll have to check with my benevolent overlords at Seed to make sure that this wouldn’t “dilute the brand”.)

In the event that these goals are met, I will post photos of the tattoos. I suspect I’ll pass on live-blogging their application (since it would be along the lines of, “OW! Ow ow ow ow OW!”), but time will tell.

At this point in the drive, I’m feeling good about the chances that my first tattoo will be my last. But a lot can happen in 21 days …


  1. #1 Super Sally
    October 10, 2008

    You answered my question 5 ‘graphs up. I’m a little short now to fund the whole, but I’ll try to do my part—maybe I can get donors to your challenge to line up on the “No More Tattoos” side with me, and if we beat the competition from here on, you’ll consider abiding by their (our) wishes.

    I’ll make at least some donation this weekend to your challenge, and ask others who do so to email you on the “No Tat” side, as well as asking for the other incentives (more to my liking).

    I suppose as a counter incentive, I could offer up tidbits about your life before Ph.D.s (and children). Come on folks, help a mother out here!

  2. #2 Academic
    October 10, 2008

    I think you need an incentive of telling embarrassing graduate school stories….

  3. #3 SeaMonkey
    October 10, 2008

    dilute the brand? Sister you ARE the brand…

    But I’m with SooperSally- donate to keep Janet HepC-free!!

  4. #4 Janet D. Stemwedel
    October 10, 2008

    Hey, I’m not offering to get jail house tattoos — I’d return to where I got the one I have (which is licensed, inspected, very hygienic, and comes highly recommended by my colleagues).

    But, to appease the mob, I’ll let donors vote (“tattoo” or “no tattoo”) when they email their donation confirmation to me.

  5. #5 Super Sally
    October 18, 2008

    Well, we (reluctantly) started our DonorChoose participation today. I’ll send on the confirmation to claim drawings, but specify that ALL DONATIONS MADE BY YOUR PARENTS DO NOT COUNT TOWARD TATOO TOTALS. Consider this a contract. We have access to attorneys, even if unreasonable.

  6. #6 SeaMonkey
    October 21, 2008

    attorneys? All you need is GrandSprog the Younger going by some FSBs…

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