Sunday, December 22, 2013

Moving from Idea: Considerations and Constraints in Hypothesis Marketing

The primary fuel for hypothesis generation is the observation.   From this hypothesis, experiments can be performed to test its validity, first and foremost by systematically replicating the observation in controlled conditions, primarily to destroy the hypothesis.  If the hypothesis is unable to be defeated, then it stands.  In many cases, you are fighting a battle that you know you will lose.  This hypothesis, upon multiple victories, then becomes a theory which can be applied not only to purely scientific pursuits but to new product design, new policy design, or in business case development for example.  However, several considerations must be made before undertaking a rigorous set of experimental investigations regardless of the purpose.   One must first ask, is the project feasible?  This basic question plays into both considerations and constraints to a given project. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Essential not Existential

In the 1940's though 1960's, and sometimes even into today, the philosophy of Existentialism was established which according to one early proponent; Jean-Paul Sartre, who famously refused the Nobel Prize for literature because he worried it would influence his prose, suggests that "existence comes before essence."  At least when it comes to humans anyway.  This is of course wrong, despite the works of reputable scientists like Steven Pinker and his book The Blank Slate and despite psychological heroes such as B. F. Skinner, the founder of  behaviorism who quipped, "give me a child and I will shape him into anything."  Despite being an interesting way to view the world, existentialism is wrong and below I discuss why.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book Review: Can Man Be Modified?

Written in French by Jean Rostand in 1956 and translated to English in 1959 by Jonathan Griffin, the book Can man be Modified? is one scientific authors prediction of our biological future.  It has been nearly sixty years since this book was written by Rostand, son of Edmond Rostand who was well known for his work Cyrano de Bergerac, and it is therefore interesting to examine in the context of what we currently know.  I found a first American edition of this book, published by Basic Books, in very good condition in an estate sale.  From my research on the price of this book in pristine condition, I can, on first inspection, observe that it is worth very little in monetary value, which may suggest that its content is also of little value.  Older books that are of little value, especially in first edition, suggest that it may have been either overproduced or without substantial merit.   Essays and scientific texts typically hold value due to famous authorship, predictive value, or influence on social change; one can suggest that Can Man Be Modified? may have none of these values. However, Rostand is an excellent writer and makes his case in 105 pages, so it was a weekend read.  Rostand separates his book into three sections; Victories and Hopes of Biology, Man and Science, and Can Man be Modified? which will be the outline of my review as well. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Above the Meritocracy

This post was previously published in the Mayo Clinic Diversity in Education Blog.

It is without a doubt that we live in a meritocracy; i.e. a society that has a built in rank and opportunity based on certificates, degrees, and records to determine worth.  This is not unique to the realm of science, where indeed we are pigeon holed by our degrees, but can be seen in all sectors of our society.  However, we are not just bound by our degrees but by our institutions and our associations.  While this may not be ideal for your self esteem, it establishes a simplification of social dynamics that is almost formulaic in nature.  Given that we can not radically alter our scholastic training, from scientist to engineer; nor institutional associations, from Mayo to U of MN; we can assume those variables to be fixed.  What is left in the equation is our associations.  How can we rise above the mass of others who have obtained the same degrees and fit the same requirements for a given job? How can we rise above the meritocracy of civilized society?  The answer is networking.  I am not the first to promulgate this point and several others have done it better than I, so I will leave it to you to examine some of the other articles on this subject to get the larger picture. (Here's just one)  However, below are four simple points to help you on your way.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How Accountability Will Save America

I'll keep this brief.  More taxes are not going to save the economy and they are not going to lift up the poor.  They will perpetuate the same old system of governmental failing we have seen time and time again.  I could show you a laundry list of tax increases in American history that were followed by an increase in national debt (but you probably wouldn't read it).  Why would more taxes be different this time?  It won't.  You can't keep throwing money at a dead horse and expect it to win the next race.  The problem in America is with accountability.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Preventing Death 101

There is one statistic that I don't have to make up.  Sooner or later 100% of people will succumb to some sort of death or another.  To paraphrase the title of the first Doors biography, "no one is getting out of here alive."

The number one problem facing earth's population is death.  As such, I am proposing my own organization, that I encourage you all to join.  (I might name it Human's Against Human Aging or HAHA.)   This organization will be dedicated to preventing death where ever it is found and funding other organizations that also stand behind this cause. It is obvious that trying to prevent death alone is a losing battle (take every individual who has gone before us for example). However, if we pool our brain power and our resources we might end death (at least for some) by the end of the 21st century.  I know this seems like a bold (perhaps fantastical) goal, but it can be fully accomplished (if we divert resources away from other fantastical goals such as preventing global warming, diets that really work, or putting our faith in the debt creating political class).  Below I discuss several measures currently underway that will help to accomplish this goal.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A New Way for Science

Out with the old.  In with the new.  This is the adage that fits the proposal that I have for a new way to train scientists.  Why, you may ask, do I think I am an expert on the training of scientists?  Lets be clear, I am no expert on scientific training, but I have been trained scientifically in various ways.  I have two bachelors degrees and am nearing the completion of my PhD, I have also worked in various laboratories that were run in extremely different ways.  This gives me some perspective on the pros and cons of these types of training. So what is this new way to teach science and why is it better?