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17 March 2020


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I love this post! I love blogs about lots of different things!

Also I have a Q for you: I do think that having earned a PhD has changed the way I think about the world and has altered my understanding of what science can and can't do. So it's appropriate to be cautious about weighing in on somebody else's area of expertise, but it's also sensible and sometimes helpful to say "Science doesn't work like X; it works like Y."

The first time I published a paper as first author, it got some media attention and this guy (whew, that was an exercise in charity, not swapping in any of the other nouns that came to mind!) decided he would do a takedown of the study without reading it. I had addressed some of his objections in the abstract and the rest of them in the text of the paper. There was literally NOTHING in his blog post that hadn't been discussed/addressed prior to publication. He was like a real-world version of this guy, only with more overt sexism: https://xkcd.com/793/ (I kid you not, his post said, "I bet they said she could do this project because she's a girl.")

Huh, this is getting to be a ridiculously long comment. And all I want to say is YES, overgeneralizing one's expertise is problematic (and can spark enduring frustration in one's targets!) AND ALSO there's a reason we talk about a scientific community, a group of people trained in similar patterns of thinking and problem-solving. So go ahead and think out loud, I'd say. We your readers like it when you think out loud.


As I read this over, it's painfully evident that this is a stream of consciousness with next to no post-production editing. How many times can I use the word "general" in a sentence? Let's see!


I agree that "X in a time of Y" is a formula that's going to get really tedious in the days to come (and I've already used it myself, as an email subject, but it was a week ago, so I feel like I was before the curve).

Melanie B

I'm with Jamie: I like hearing you think out loud about sciencey things as well as all the other stuff. When I was in college I loved having a group of friends that included the science geeks as well as my liberal arts and fine arts peeps. So please, feel free to be a bit sciencey for the sake of those of us who like to rub shoulders with geeks.

Mrs. D, I've used it too, also before the curve. And I now vow not to do it again.


I didn’t even get the quote right!

Christine Adams

I’ve been reading your blog for so many years. I am grateful you write the way you do - I enjoy the variety of topics bc they are relevant to life and they are real. We grapple with doing health, meal planning, schooling, civic life, faith well. I’m also a homeschool mom and my favorite thing that emerges from your blog is the goodness of a person who is journeying on her path awake and engaged. I tire of all the selling that happens on school blogs and the pandering image making.

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