Adventures in Ethics and Science

Halt! Identify yourself!

Ed Yong and DrugMonkey have dusted off the invitation (seen here last summer) for readers to take a moment to introduce themselves in the comments.

It seems like a good idea to me, so I’m going to play along:

Who are you? (Scientist, philosopher, other? Student, parent, working stiff, blissful retiree? Given that personal identity is a matter of deep philosophical import, I’m going to let you decide the right way to deal with this question.)

Have we met in real life? Before or after you first read the blog? (Are you now regretful of our real-life meeting?)

What brings you to this blog?

What’s likely to bring you back?

If you lurk rather than commenting, are you content with that? Are there conditions that you think might suck you into commenting?

What do you like reading around here? Which of my posts angry up the blood? (Are you one of those people who enjoys reading posts that angry up the blood?)

What topics would you like to see more of?

Did my recent blog hiatus leave you bereft, or leave you with more time for your own explorations of the three-dimensional world? Do you agree with Super Sally that you’re entitled to two sprog blog entries this week to make up for the one that we missed last week?

Temporary tattoos: pro or con?

Do you think this “blogging” thing is likely to catch on?

Comments

  1. #1 cicely
    July 8, 2009

    Seven.

    Hi, I’m cicely (on the Web; RL is another place). I’m a life-long science groupie, working in a non-science, non-challenging, non-exciting job (receptionist/data entry), which leaves me with most of the day to surf the sciencebloggiverse and other places of interest. And I like cheezburgers.

    We’ve never met, and are unlikely to ever meet, so post-meeting regret seems like a non-issue.

    I came to this blog via a link at some other blog, at which I was consuming part of my Minimum Daily Requirement of science-related stuff. Your blog supplies me with an extra helping, as well as important vitamins and minerals, so I check it out every day, except on those rare occasions when my job involves doing something.

    Additional science stuff will continue to bring me back. I’m really kinda hard to shake off; I’m fungus-like, that way. Well, I guess if you suddenly started posting a lot of hyperconservative, fundamentally religious (any flavor; I’m an equal opportunity atheist) stuff, I’d get bored, or nauseous, or both, and go away. Until then, I’m probably on board for the long haul, unless they take my computer away. (Sorry; that should have been, They. I’m not well-practiced at the whole conspiracy thing.) Or, if you lose interest in blogging, and stop posting new stuff, I will eventually get the hint and delete you from my bookmarks.

    I think until now, I’ve always just lurked; memory is hazy, and the brain loses info when it powers down at night. However…I’m commenting now, so obviously this has worked. Polls also work, as do kittehs. Grammar abuse sometimes works, but not in a good way.

    So far, I’ve got no complaints of the menu; I’m too generally ignorant (undereducated) to comment to the science, and the ethics is something that I’m interested in watching from the outside (not being in the science community, after all.) I’m not a big fan of angry posts, or angry blood, but the recent Silence Is The Enemy theme running through so many scienceblogs has made me furious on behalf of the victims, and angry at some of the commenters, who seem to favor the status quo. (Hmmm, generally males, I wonder why?)

    It’s never joyful when one of my regular feedings of bloggy goodness is missed, but I realize that sciencebloggers have private and professional lives, so bereftness only becomes an issue when unexplained absences go on for more than about a week. Retroexplanation works, because Real Life happens, and very few people schedule their emergencies. Sprog entries at your discretion; you’ll enjoy them more that way.

    Temporary tattoos offer obvious advantages to for-real ones; mistakes are more easily erased, appropriateness for the occasion is more possible without use of body make-up, there’s a wider scope for artistic expression, and most importantly, I’ve been reliably informed that tattooing hurts. A lot. Not into unnecessary pain. Nope.

    And, finally, I think it’s a bit late in the day to ask whether “blogging” is going to catch on. It’s here, we’ve caught it, the symptoms are everywhere, and it’s mutating (I see Twitter as mutant blogging). I think it’ll last as long as it’s useful, and until it’s supplanted by something higher-tech. Neural implants, maybe, that enable consentual telepathy.

  2. #2 Michelle Dawson
    July 8, 2009

    A stranger, a tatooless autistic person, a researcher affiliated with a Univeristy of Montreal autism research group, a vegetarian for three decades and counting, and (sadly) one of the few autism researchers on the planet who blogs.

    I have strong interests in ethics, research misconduct, and questionable research practices–ergo how I got here in the first placed. Stayed because who knows what’s going to show up? It’s always interesting.

  3. #3 Hap
    July 8, 2009

    Two.

    I’m a chemist with a master’s degree working in a nonstandard chemistry job. I now have one small child, so I guess I’m a parent too (and a husband, but I was that before munchkin).

    We haven’t met.

    I came here from In the Pipeline.

    I like most of the topics here (ethics of science, munchkins).

    I don’t know what would drive me away – the farming/conservation things make me guilty, but they should, so… If you started advocating woo (homeopathy, chemical-free herbal remedies, magnetic therapy) sans data, that might, but I don’t know.

    What I like here is probably the sprog stories (a book would be nice) and the misconduct entries. Usually the animal ethics things get me going here. The explanations of physical chemistry topics in crayon would be neat (like the osmosis post).

    I felt slightly bereft, but I figured you were protesting the mail-order-bride ads, which seemed like a good reason to break. At least you aren’t blocked by Websense.

    Con – though it doesn’t matter much. I guess if you want a tattoo but can’t get one because of work, it’s an option, or as a trial to see if you would actually want a particular tattoo. Mostly they seem slightly lame to me, but I don’t want a tattoo, anyway.

  4. #4 choebacca
    July 9, 2009

    I am: a new PhD student in the MCB program at Berkeley, just graduated undergrad from UC Davis in Biochem. I love the Bay Area, I have some friends at SJ State, I should ask if they know of you. I love science. I aspire to someday be a scientist. I read lots of ScienceBlogs every day – including yours.
    We have never met.
    This blog interested me because it addresses the issues of science within society. And since the science world does not exist in a vacuum (though sometimes scientists act like it does), these issues are important to keep in mind. I have found all of your ethics and science posts to be very interesting – animal testing, scientific misconduct, etc. The sprog posts are meh to me, but not a detracting factor. I also appreciate that you were trained as a scientist but have a career in ethics – it shows that there is a range of possibilities after a science PhD.
    I lurk a lot. I like to read but rarely feel compelled to comment. Mostly I just like to absorb the information and let it swim in my head.
    The hiatus was sad, I missed the ethical science dilemmas you present so well.
    And temporary tattoos are definitely a big no. So tacky.

  5. #5 Jean
    July 9, 2009

    I’m a 25 year old soon-to-be medical student who spent the last year working at a free clinic. I did research in college and worked a year as a tech, and want to return to it in med school. I’m more of a reader than a commenter, but I’ll comment if it’s something in which I have relevant experience. We’ve never met. A friend recommended your blog, and I continue to read because I like your emphasis on ethics in research and the sprog blogging (even though I don’t have kids). I’m not easy to anger, but I like well-weighted analysis that makes me think.

  6. #6 estraven
    July 9, 2009

    I’m a 40+ math professor with tenure and a mother of three: sometimes symultaneously, as I’ve been known to teach or go to a meeting with the child(ren) in my office watching a DVD.

    I love your blog, especially the sprogs features since my own kids are about the same age as your (it’s three of them, but two birthdates only).

    I don’t know you personally and I occasionally comment, but not much. I felt sure you would come back to blogging after whatever was keeping you busyn and just hoped it wasn’t a family problem.

    And my children love temporary tattoos.

  7. #7 Kültür Turları
    July 9, 2009

    China strongly condemned the cruelty of türk uygur are the ethnic genocide that China is guilty and should be tried ..

  8. #8 Guru
    July 9, 2009

    An assistant professor with a specialisation in computational materials science; I visit this site for the discussions on academic life here, which are both informative and enjoyable.

  9. #9 Nick
    July 9, 2009

    I’m a 35 year old Ph.D. chemist working on optical materials for a US military research lab.

    We’ve not met in real life, and I don’t remember specifically, but I suspect I first ended up here by following a link posted by Chad Orzel.

    I read this blog primarily for the calm, thorough, and reasoned discussion of some very thorny issues provided here. The rational and systematic tone of the posts allows me to disengage my emotional responses to some issues and think them through. As someone who is too easily upset, this is a very valuable thing for me; when I get upset talking about difficult things in other contexts, I try to take a deep breath and think, “How would Dr. Free-Ride approach this issue?”

    My tendency towards, “Someone is wrong on the internet!”-style emotional reactions, combined with my poor ability to communicate tone in writing, means that I generally try stay out of the comments.

  10. #10 Rob Knop
    July 9, 2009

    Rob Knop, 41-year old former astrophysics professor, former computer engineer for Linden Lab, former ScienceBlogs blogger.

    I’m so “former” in everything that some days I wonder if my only options for identity are a choice between ‘has been’ and ‘never was’.

    I read Janet’s blog because she often says interesting and provocative things. Her posts are more thoughtful than a lot of bloggers, and she doesn’t resort to rants very often unlike many others. She’s clearly not an attention-grabber, but a lot of people would do well by reading and thinking about what she writes. Some things are more interesting to me than other things, and I don’t always read everything, I have to admit.

    Plus, I’ve met Janet, and consider her a cool person and a friend.

  11. #11 Emily
    July 9, 2009

    1. I’m female, British, 19; just finished my first year of studying Spanish and Russian (with linguistics) at Cambridge University.

    2. Nope, not met.

    3. & 4. Browsing around ScienceBlogs brought me originally; I was hooked by the clearly-thought-out, clearly-expressed arguments lying around (quite often expressing a viewpoint that I could recognise as my own, but put together far more coherently than I could manage myself), and the calm, gently humorous tone. Not that I don’t enjoy a good bit of shrieking about issues I care about, but a side-dish of level-minded and moderate assessment can’t be a bad thing! I come back, of course, for the snails and the sprogs. :)

    5. I pretty much lurk — have commented maybe three or four times. I was delighted and gratified to see a question of mine in the comments answered in a new post a little while back.

    6. Pretty much answered in 3. & 4.

    7. I did vaguely wonder what was going on. Yes, two new sprog posts are absolutely required!

    8. Um, I doubt I’d ever have one myself, and I don’t find them particularly attractive, but I have no objection to other people getting them if that’s what they fancy…

    9. Hasn’t it already? Every time I consider starting a blog, I decide that I’ve missed the boat. (That’s a lie. It’s just that I’m too lazy and boring.)

    Thanks for a great blog!

  12. #12 Nat
    July 9, 2009

    I’m a 35 year old neuroscientist (postdoc still) and we’ve never met. I do recall checking out some of your old blogspot posts, but I’m not sure if you had already moved over to Sb. Nor do I recall how I ended up finding your blog.

    I’ve spent various periods thinking a lot about ethics and epistemology as it relates to the current practice of science. Mostly with how messed up some aspects of current science are.

    I stick around because you fill a unique role in the science blogosphere.

  13. #13 Lisa D
    July 10, 2009

    Hello. As an office employee who occasionally has too little work and an interest in science, good writing, ethics, gardening and raising smart kids, your blog is a good fit. read Pharyngula for a while and had more time to kill than he had posts. I found your blog by using the scienceblog.som navigation tool. Since I live in the midwest, my envy of your growing zone knows no bounds. It also make it unlikely that we will meet in person. Since you had posted daily prior to your hiatus, I hoped that you were safe and healthy. I’m glad to hear that you were just busy.

    Temporary tattoos: meh.

  14. #14 Danimal
    July 10, 2009

    Who are you? (Scientist, philosopher, other? Student, parent, working stiff, blissful retiree? Given that personal identity is a matter of deep philosophical import, I’m going to let you decide the right way to deal with this question.)

    Have we met in real life? Before or after you first read the blog? (Are you now regretful of our real-life meeting?)

    What brings you to this blog?

    What’s likely to bring you back?

    I am a civilian government scientist working for the military in the field of computation shock physics. My field is so narrow that I know most others working in the field and they know me. I have some of the fastest computers in the world at my disposal. I am 48 and have a wife much younger then me and have a 10-year-old son. When I post I include a URL to our defunct (no longer expressible through our front page and hasn’t been updated since 2002) “about us” page. I have never met you.

    I come here because you have the ability to write about ethics in science taking most angles into account in a very logical manner that even a laymen can understand. I love your posts about your children, which are usually the ones where I will post a comment. I loved your snail hunting series even though I did not (I least I think) comment. No wait I think I ask about spraying salt water. I read you almost daily. I do not post unless I think I have something interesting or funny to add.

  15. #15 Muse142
    July 10, 2009

    Hello!

    I’m a 23-year-old who has recently acquired a bachelor’s in neuro and psych (with a chem minor), starting a Ph.D. program in a month, and this is at least the fourth of these things that I’ve responded to. :)

    I come to this blog because you’re brilliant, and you apply that brilliance to a really cool, pertinent, and all-around useful topic that few others in the SciBorg collective really focus on. I will continue coming back for as long as you’re writing.

    I like reading, well, almost everything of yours, but especially the ethics stuff. I really enjoy the meta-commentary on your Sciblings’ little spats. I also could always do with moar feminism, too.

    Temporary tats: Totally pro. Much better than permanent ones when being drunk and foolish!

  16. #16 MyaR
    July 13, 2009

    Coming in very late, but I’ve been very busy with a new job and moving for it. I’m a 37-year-old ontologist (in the CS-ish sense, working on semantic SOA, although the philosophical sort of ontology comes up a lot, too) whom you’ve never met. I came to ontology by way of taxonomy, which I got to by way of indexing, which I got to by way of not being braindead, which I got to by way of working for a couple of crazy people, which I got to by way of linguistics and anthropology, which were unmarketable when I graduated. (“Linguistics, eh? How many languages do you speak?”)

    I comment infrequently but read frequently, mostly because there’s only so much time in the day, and I usually don’t have anything to add that another commenter hasn’t already covered. If you could provide me more time, I would comment much more frequently. Perhaps providing me an independent income equal to ~100K/year would be sufficient to allow me the leisure necessary.

    I don’t know how exactly I first ended up visiting here, but the general tenor and humor keep me coming back. And so I can store up sprog-science interactions for my own eventual sprogs.

    Temporary tats: if you’re under 7, anything goes, from dinosaurs to stars. If you’re between 7 and ~12, you should be showing some kind of flair or statement. Between 12 and ~21, Don’t. Do. It. Over 21, and you can go back to the 7-12 state, although with the added caveat that humor must be present, given the “temporary” part.

  17. #17 Mark the Chemist
    July 13, 2009

    I’m a lurker, I think this is my first post. I’m a 40-year-old associate professor of chemistry at a liberal arts college on the east coast.

    I went to grad school with Janet and took part in a “philosophy of science/quantum mechanics” reading group that Janet organized. I think I last saw her in person at a conference at Purdue in 2006.

    I enjoy reading Janet’s comments and think that the discussions are a refreshing alternative to the histrionics that take place at blogs like Pharyngula, Panda’s Thumb, and Real Climate.

    I don’t post because I don’t often have time to do more than read the blog while I have lunch.

    I don’t see the point of tattoos, but it doesn’t bother me if people do that to their own bodies

  18. #18 Ewan
    July 13, 2009

    Neuroscientist. Gamer. Cook. Atheist. Socialist. These days, husband and father. Foodie. No ordering implied here :).

    First-year asst. prof in behavioural neuroscience. Lover of poems and art from sprogs concerning the hippocampus :).

  19. #19 Ned Wright
    July 14, 2009

    Astrophysics professor, worked on many space missions:
    COBE (2 publications co-authored with Super Sally), WMAP, Spitzer and WISE.

    I enjoy the long and thoughtful posts like the Unscientific America review.

  20. #20 $0.01
    July 14, 2009

    I am ok with temp tattoos (no more than 2 at once) for people under 10 (can we call them “people” yet?). I have 2 permanent tats.
    We do know each other in the “real” world and my favorite way to explain to my sprogs that I know you is from when LO and I used to hold your feet when you did handstands in the pool, trying to get Elder Offspring to turn in utero, so I knew you before your blog began.
    I love your sprog blogging the most and often send them to my better half because we have similar (but less clever)discussions with our spawn. I also read the posts about academia’s tribulations, philosophy and animal/food issues with vigor.
    I’m a professional archivist and amateur parent.