The Thoughtful Animal

Looks like Drugmonkey has re-instated the who are you and why are you looking at me meme. Having only participated as a reader of Scienceblogs the last few years, I’m excited to be on the other side of the table this time.

For some background, Ed Yong initially started this game a few years ago, and it caught on pretty quickly among the other sciblings (and then, other science bloggers as well).

I particularly like the questions that Janet is asking this year, so I’ll go ahead and blatantly plagiarize (and modify) some of hers. Please respond to any combination of these questions below in the comments, but at least the first one. If you’re a lurker, this is the time to de-cloak, at least until the next time we play this game.

Who are you? (Scientist, scientist-in-training, other? Student, parent, working stiff, blissful retiree? Thinking about psychology or neuroscience for an undergrad major/graduate program/something else? Wishing you *had* thought about psych/neuro, and regretting that you hadn’t?)

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? Have you been reading since the WordPress days of obscurity, or more recently?

What’s likely to bring you back? What would be likely to drive you away? (Not that I want to drive any of you away!)

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?

Is my current pace of a few posts (containing actual content as opposed to links and videos) a week adequate for your needs, or would you be happier if I delivered at least one new post every day?

…And as the man said, if you have a science-y or academic-y blog, consider yourself tagged!

Comments

  1. #1 slabounty
    July 2, 2010

    1. Engineer.
    2. Nope, wouldn’t mind though as we both live in SoCal.
    3. More recently. I believe it was a post about dogs and “bowing” that I first saw.
    4. I enjoy the animal cognition posts especially.
    5. Lurk mostly and am happy with that as I don’t have any expertise whatsoever in these areas.
    6. I don’t think I’ve read anything that angered me. I read P.Z. for that ;-).
    7. Animal cognition.
    8. New posts are always cool.

  2. #2 CS Shelton
    July 2, 2010

    I am a bachelor of fine arts, majored in computer animation. That’s an industry that’s more focused on portfolio than on education and I’m a bit of a slacker, so I haven’t squeaked in the door yet. Only commenting on blogs because I was laid off from my last security job, but I likey the science – including neuroscience – and the atheism (pharyngula). Plus my gf banned me from going to the Slog (thestranger.com), so I’m on science blogs instead.

    I come to this blog from the links at the top and the sidebar of sciblogs, where headlines of updates appear. Apparently, you had some interesting headlines.

    Why come back? New content. Especially neuroscience stuff. Fluff posts and videos I could find elsewhere are less cool.

    I comment because I’m an egomaniac. Lurkers are humble. It’s a virtue.

    I don’t like contentious situations – at least, that’s not why I’m here. That recent situation upset me more than it should have (mostly the ladies burning on us), so… Nothing bad to say about you, but you should have ended it earlier maybe.

    So post about your area of expertise, and I think that’s interesting enough to keep me coming back. Until my girlfriend tells me to stop wasting my time here.

    Post as often as you feel, but one good post a week is better than three lame ones.

  3. #3 KevinH
    July 2, 2010

    I’m a gradstudent in neuroscience.
    Haven’t met you in real life.
    I get this blog as part of my SciBlogs: Brain & Behavior RSS feed, and haven’t been reading it for too long. I don’t even see all your posts, just the ones that make it onto that feed.
    Those posts I do read are mostly about animal cognition, but I also own and love dogs so the Monday pets have been fun.
    I’d comment if I thought I had anything to add, or a big question to ask, but it hasn’t come up yet.
    I generally like the blog, but don’t think I’m your perfect target audience, and probably wouldn’t ever be a supper loyal reader (sorry).

  4. #4 klumchuck
    July 2, 2010

    I could not resist the temptation to make it 2 engineers in a row.
    1) Laid off SW engineer
    2) Doubt it highly, thouggh like slabounty I’m in SoCal (San Diego)
    3) Actually it’s anything and everything. I place myself in the category of teachable layperson. Almost all post have something interesting.
    4) Almost every post contributes to my appreciation of science & knowledge
    5) I’m a lurker. My SW knowledge contributes very little to your topics unless geopositioning via photography comes up. That’s somewhat unlikely lol
    6) Hmm well I too read PZ, but I work at being teachable so what is written is accepted as is.
    7) No suggestions here.
    8) Yeah I’d like more posts, but then I’ve always been greedy :)
    Needless to say, continuing the learning process is important to me. Your expertise is in an area I know very little about but every post adds to my store of knowledge.

  5. #5 Paul
    July 2, 2010

    1. Soon-to-be finishing grad in Applied Math, Ecology. Pretty solidly between the two fields at the moment.
    2. Nope.
    3. Caught the end of the WordPress days, loved the posts!
    4. Hmm… not sure.
    5. I’m happy to lurk with the occasional comment. :)
    6. Interesting science (new and old) to share w/ friends and family.
    7. More from non-model-systems are always welcomed!
    8. I find less than one per day works great. I can check in and easily catch up. More than that gets overwhelming for those of us following more than a few blogs, and any loss of quality would likely get noticed more than in increase in quantity ;)

  6. #6 Dave Lukas
    July 2, 2010

    1. Financial analyst with economics and philosophy background and interest in everything science
    2. Yes
    3. Only pretty recently; heard about the scienceblogs move and picked up the RSS feed
    4. Interesting content and analysis
    5. You don’t have to worry too much about me not speaking my mind if theres’s something I feel like commenting on
    6. I like the controversial posts because they make me challenge my own preconceptions. I also like picking on people who are unable to challenge their own preconceptions and will grasp at the frayed ends of logic to defend untenable beliefs.
    7. Evopsych; behavioral economics
    8. Current pace is good; as it is I’m not able to get to them all

  7. #7 gelf
    July 2, 2010

    1. I’m a homeschooling mum, who is not a religious kook, but trying to raise up two rational scientists in the middle of the Bible Belt.
    2. No.
    3. Saw a link in another scienceblog.
    4. I like your critiques of other studies. My favorite is “Who Moved My Garden”, et al. That sort of thing.
    5. I rarely comment because I’m not qualified – I left college after two years into a psych undergrad.
    6. See #4. Your blog has yet to rile me, which is a good thing.
    7 & 8. Whatever you do on your blog is fine with me. I make no demands, I only accept what you put out there. The inconsistency of a blog shows the personality of the blogger, so just keep doing what you’re doing. I’d hate to see all of one thing or another.

  8. #8 Lexie
    July 2, 2010

    I am a phd student in genetics. I discovered this blog through Pharyngula and stayed because I think behaviour is interesting (and I’m a dog nut so love the dog-oriented entries). I also like the layout of your blog with pictures and figures to go with your writing.
    I am a lurker in general. I just don’t find that I have much to say.
    I think one thing that I might be interested in is not just interesting research but also bad research. When I’m reading something that’s not in my field, I tend to believe it and not be able to see the flaws (aside from the obvious “we compared 2 groups” *shudder*). So I like when people explain the issues of a research article and might help me be more critical. But I’ve got Orac’s blog for poking holes in research so if you don’t feel comfortable doing it then that’s fine.
    …Actually, an article about how to criticize someone’s research in your own paper without causing offense would be really helpful at this point (I’m writing my first paper right now).

  9. #9 Mike Lisieski
    July 3, 2010

    1. Undergraduate student (senior.) I’m looking to get into an M.D./Ph.D program in behavioral neuroscience.

    2. Nope. I try to keep the internet and real life as separate as possible (although I’m failing more and more – for example, I use my full name, now.)

    3. I found a link here once. I like reading about research.

    4. Posts on research bring me back. Links and videos are okay, but they’re usually not new to me (I spend a lot of time on the internet, so I run across new memes and such pretty quickly.)

    5. I comment.

    6. I like most of your posts. What angers me the most is when people say things that are unapologetically biased by their background, which you wisely seem to avoid (especially after that fiasco a bit ago about the porn research.)

    7. I’d like to see more of my pet interests blogged about: cephalopods, the history of esoteric discoveries in science, cognition, drugs of abuse, avian and invertebrate ethology, bad science.

    8. I think your pace is fine. Quality is more important than quantity.

  10. #10 The Dog Zombie
    July 3, 2010

    1. DVM/MS student, currently studying stress in hospitalized dogs (MS), about to return to studying veterinary medicine (DVM).
    2. No.
    3. Animal cognition! Domestication! Animal behavior! Canids! The only other blogger I know to be as obsessed with silver foxes as I am!
    4. See #3…
    5. I comment.
    6. My blood does not like to be angried up.
    7. How about some posts on bird cognition? Bird tool use? Hey, do you know any bird neuroscience? They have extra weird brains and I haven’t learned as much about them as I’d like to have.
    8. Current pace is good — as someone else said, I have trouble keeping up as it is (given all the other blogs I follow).

    I really enjoy your blog. Thanks!

  11. #11 teenage dreams
    July 3, 2010

    1. I’m (nearly) a clinical psychologist.
    2. I’m in the UK, so I very much doubt we’ve met.
    3. I subscribe to the RSS Brain & Behaviour channel from Scienceblogs, so that’s how I found you. Saying that though, you’ve now become one of the blogs I actively check for new posts from.
    4. What I like is a good mixture of blogging on peer reviewed stuff I’m never going to read or come across, (because it’s outside what I’m likely to encounter through work, but is of interest to me anyway, because I like psychology); and discussion of debates/contentious areas; Overly long posts tend to drive me away.
    5. I only comment when I’ve something to say, which is infrequent, especially as I often tend to skim blogs rather than read in detail (lack of time, not lack of interest)
    6. See #4. I quite like reading stuff that makes me angry, as it’s an opportunity to examine why I’ve taken a particular position and evaluate it.
    7. I’m not sure.
    8. A post a day is too much for me to keep up with. So current rates are fine.

  12. #12 ddpej
    July 3, 2010

    Identity: Recent college graduate (Animal Science). Jumped into the major after a year and a half of engineering (loved the math and physics, not so much the career) and still got out in four years, so it was rather a whirlwind trip and I didn’t get much of a chance to truly explore it. Also, the only behavior focus available was grad school (not now, if ever) and there weren’t many courses that spent time on companion animals — so I came out of it with a stepping-stone degree and nothing direct to do with it. Huzzah! (No regrets, though. Even after having to give up my marvelous math and suffering through far too much chemistry and biology, I still enjoyed the genetics, animal exposure, and novelty of it all.)

    Meetings: None. (Location: nowhere near you.)

    Discovery: Wandered in from Pharyngula, I believe (but have since read through the WordPress archives).

    Preference: Interesting stuff that doesn’t fly over my head. Similarly, the quickest way to send me wandering off is to bore me.

    Commenting: I’m a lifelong lurker and most comfortable in that role, but I may comment on rare occasions if I have a particularly itchy question or feel I have some level of experience to contribute (unlikely).

    Reading: I’ll read anything and everything. Bonus points if you can make me think. (Side note: thank you for the music posts. It’s always nice to get some exposure to neat songs and artists I probably wouldn’t stumble across on my own.)

    Topics: I’ve a personal interest/pseudo-specialty in cats, but it’s a case of [slightly higher than everything else] rather than [other stuff is icky]. Overall, I prefer posts with broader connections to behavior/effects I can observe/common-language understanding over those focusing highly on neurobiology details. Which you’ve pulled off pretty well thus far, so no complaints.

    Pace: If anything, I get behind! (But then, I also go to almost everything linked and read that, and listen to every song posted, and so on. If I just focused on the “actual content” posts, I’d be fine.)

  13. #13 ThisIsGrand
    July 3, 2010

    1. A lurker- I work in the animal health field (all felines) and have a general interest in psychology. Hobbies include being owned by 3 cats and trying to get my photography into a gallery.

    2. No

    3. PZ Myers sent me, I liked what I saw, I stayed.

    4. To bring me back just keep posting fun articles on the strange things animals do, and why they do them. Help keep me thinking. To drive me away just keep bad mouthing cats or bore me to tears.

    5. I lurk. I comment when asked to or when I have a question someone else hasn’t beaten me to.

  14. #14 Alex H.
    July 3, 2010

    I’m a senior undergraduate researcher at Southwestern University majoring in Animal Behavior. I’m planning on an EEB or Behavioral Ecology Ph.D. program after college. Neuroscience is fascinating, but I’m not as interested in these topics as I am passionate about field work and herpetology.

    I found your blog somewhere along the lines. I don’t remember, to be honest. We have similar interests, so I read your posts :)

    I enjoy well-researched posts that bring interesting and important studies/opinions to the forefront. Articles serve their purpose by laying everything (well, mostly) on the table. Blogging is more about highlighting and responding, or adding some context.

    I (casually) maintain a blog, in case you’re interested: http://the-ethologist.blogspot.com/

  15. #15 lilith
    July 4, 2010

    1. About to start a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology (animal cognition and behaviour)
    2. No, but you wrote me an-e-mail after I’ve left a comment here.
    3. Saw the link on Pharynguls and thought: cool! animal behaviour!
    4. I would stay for posts on cool new studies on animal behaviour and also some of your own opinions on, well, stuff. If it’s very long I just won’t read it.
    5. I’m a happy lurker.

  16. #16 Lorenzo
    July 4, 2010

    1. HIYA! I’m a psychology graduate, about to start sn MSc in evolutionary psychology & animal behaviour.
    2. Never met… I’m in Scotland
    3. I am a self-confessed Scienceblog geek and stumbled upon you on your first post! (Als would have found you via Sci’s blog, she’s another one of my favourite sciblings)
    4. Any post on animal cognition and behaviour is a winner for me, I enjoy all your posts.
    5. I’m more of a lurker, mostly cos I usually browse at work and it’s frowned upon. And my comments would just consist of meaningless “oooh cool!”s

    Basically you’re doing a great job and really getting me excited and motivated about my Masters!!

  17. #17 anaxagoras
    July 4, 2010

    1. PhD molecular biology, but not working since 2005 due to injury/disability. Prior to that I had a sweet career telling the government how to spend research $$$.
    3. Wandered here from Pharyngula, recently.
    4. Love animal cognition, especially canid. I trained a shelter reject to be my service dog (“unadoptable”, my ass), hence the particular appeal. But in general I go with the “use it or lose it” concept of thinking/intelligence, and since I’m stuck at home I value anything that facilitates such exercise. I agree with a prior comment that picking apart less-than-stellar research is oh so much fun.
    5. Lurking works best for me, for now.
    6. A little angering up the blood is OK, wouldn’t keep me from coming back, but more like for spicing things up/variety/special occasions than as a staple would be best.

  18. #18 anaxagoras
    July 4, 2010

    p.s. I noted a couple other comments where people mentioned that they lurk and don’t post because of lack of expertise or a self-stated description of being unqualified. In my experience, the best questions, criticisms and comments often come from people outside or new to a scientific field, because people on the “inside” can fall prey to group-think and other ruts. My job used to include things like criticizing the research proposals of people far more senior and experienced than me, challenging their interpretation of their data–often in areas only remotely related to my own area of expertise (if at all)–and generally being a snarky upstart. But you would be surprised how many times said senior, experienced scientists would get pensive, pause, and say “I never thought of that. Hmmm….” So for what it’s worth, my advice is, post away anyway! The “stupid” question or comment is often the smartest one.

  19. #19 NeuroK├╝z
    July 4, 2010

    1. Grad student in neuroscience, fellow neuroblogger

    2. Nay. I’m in Canada.

    3. More recently when I developed an interest in science blogs. Around the same time you made the move to scienceblogs, a friend of mine sent me a link to your site recommending it.

    4. Bonobos will bring me back. Intelligence and empathy in animals are both very interesting. Makes me question how unique we are as humans.

    5. I am content with lurking, but I’m also content with commenting when I feel I have something to add to the discussion.

    6. Bonobos are awesome. I haven’t read any posts yet that angried up the blood.

    7. More everything, I guess.

    8. I usually can’t keep up with blogs that are one new post a day, so 2-3 per week is usually ideal for me. But don’t slow down if you have lots to write about.

  20. #20 anaxagoras
    July 5, 2010

    Oops, I forgot–
    Would like to see more of: stuff related to empathy and emotions in animals.

  21. #21 Coturnix
    July 5, 2010

    Who are you?
    SciBling, sometime scientist, now blogger and otherwise dabbling in science communication in various forms.

    Have we met in real life?
    Not yet. I hope soon.

    What brings you to this blog? Have you been reading since the WordPress days of obscurity, or more recently?
    I started a little bit before your move to Sb. The move made me a more regular reader – easy to keep an eye on SciBlings on the Last24Hours page.

    What’s likely to bring you back? What would be likely to drive you away?
    We share many of the same interests, so just keep doing what you’re doing.

    If you lurk rather than commenting, are you content with that? Are there conditions that you think might suck you into commenting?
    I rarely have a one-liner response. If you write something that gets me so excited I need to write 12000 words, it is either something better NOT posting, or I can post it on my own blog and link back to you.

    What do you like reading around here?
    Domestica foxes! ;-)
    Everything. Keep it broad, do not narrow down the topic to just one thing.

    Is my current pace of a few posts (containing actual content as opposed to links and videos) a week adequate for your needs, or would you be happier if I delivered at least one new post every day?
    Frequency is just fine as it is.

  22. #22 biochem belle
    July 6, 2010

    I’m a early phase disgruntledoc in basic biomedical research. I discovered you on twitter first-I think b/c of baconblogwarz. Seeing a kindred spirit (in love of bacon), I started checking things out here.

  23. #23 Tim Martin
    July 6, 2010

    1. Research assistant in a neuroscience lab. Mainly studying memory and aging.

    2. Nope

    3. More recently – I think I got the link from Pharyngula.

    4. Blogging about research is interesting, and there’s not a lot of stuff out there dedicated to animals (that I’ve noticed).

    6. & 7. I really like research that sheds light on how we can break cognition up into its component parts. Animals are very interesting in the perspective they give us on that. Anything relating to language is especially interesting for me, although IMO there’s a disconcerting lack of care when it comes to interpreting studies on animal communication and how that compares to human communication (and that stirs up the blood, I must admit).

    8. I read a lot of blogs, so this pace is good for me.

  24. #24 lix
    July 6, 2010

    1. Post-doc in evolutionary theory, interest in animal cognition.
    2. No.
    3. Link from another science blog, subscribed a few months ago.
    4. Love all the detailed posts on animal cognition research.
    5. Don’t comment unless have something to say. Very happy with the blog – don’t rate yourself by # of comments.
    6. Find aggressive political Science Blogs shallow, boring and uninformative. Not against politics per se (& sympathize with your views), but the level of discourse here makes interesting conversation impossible.
    7. Would prefer you posted *less* not more. Primarily informative science-oriented posts. Videos that show unusual animal behavior are interesting. Don’t bother with music / jokes / specific blogger social network stuff. Or label them in the title so I can ignore :-) Thanks for writing this blog, I really enjoy it!

  25. #25 Susan Weinschenk
    July 31, 2010

    1. Have a Ph.D. in Psychology from long ago. I’m a consultant/speaker/author (Neuro Web Design: What makes them click?)

    2. I don’t think we’ve met.

    3. Always looking for latest research on psychology/brain/behavior. I’ve been subscribing for about a year or so.

    3. LIke the reviews of research on human psychology/brain/behavior.

    4. Usually lurk and that is fine… you did just suck me into commenting by asking these questions.

    5. Just like to hear about the research.

    6. same as above.

    7. pace is just fine.