We had so much fun interviewing the three most recent ScienceBloggers that we decided there’s no good reason to limit ourselves to the newbies. Now we’re going after all the ScienceBloggers for interviews, and we will be running conversations with many more of your favorites over the coming weeks.
This time around, we’re talking to James Hrynyshyn of The Island of Doubt.
What’s your name?
What do you do when you’re not blogging?
I’m a freelance science journalist. So that means I spend most of day on non-paying assignments, such as painting the living room walls, repairing broken faucents, mowing the lawn and, if I’m very lucky, assembling web sites for poor clients.
What is your blog called?
The Island of Doubt
What’s up with that name?
It comes from a Talking Heads song, “Cross-eyed and Painless” from 1980’s Remain in Light album. To wit: “The Island of Doubt; it’s a like a taste of medicine.” It evokes the feeling that we skeptics and other secular humanists often get when it seems we’re surrounded by a sea of certainty and absolute faith.
How long have you been blogging, anyway?
About 16 months.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born in a small pulp-and-paper town (Dryden) in Northwestern Ontario, but now live in an even smaller town in Western North Carolina (Saluda).
Would you describe yourself as a working scientist?
Not quite. While I have a degree in marine biology (what better education for someone who lives in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains?), I do not regularly conduct observational or experimental science. Should someone offer me money to do so, however, I’d he happy to oblige.
Any educational experiences or degrees you’d like to mention?
I also have a degree in journalism. Also, I am certified in marine emergency duties and the operation of underwater remotely operated vehicles. And I have a Canadian firearms possession and acquisition license.
What are your main academic interests, in or out of your field?
The ecology of the ocean, and the planet as a whole. I’m trying to keep up my interest in marine mammals, but it’s not that easy from these parts.
The last book you read?
The Revenge of Gaia: Earth’s Climate Crisis & the Fate of Humanity by James Lovelock
What is your idea of a perfect day?
Six hours of kayaking on the ocean — with my wife — followed by a campfire, stargazing with a full stomach and bottle of single-malt scotch.
What’s your greatest habitual annoyance?
If you mean other people’s habits, it’s the decline of conversational English, like, you know.
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Does Capt. James T. Kirk count?
Your favorite heroes in real life?
Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan
What’s your most marked characteristic?
My complete lack of pretension.
What’s your principal defect?
What quality do you admire most in a person?
Who are your favorite writers?
Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Mark Twain, Umberto Eco and Robert Sawyer
What would you like to be?
A freelance science journalist, but an independently wealthy one to whom assignments are offered, rather than sought out.