Who am I? Why am I here?

“Who am I? Why am I here?”

Who could forget that memorable quote from Admiral James Stockdale, candidate for Vice President running with Ross Perot in 1992, during the first Vice Presidential debate? In a way, as the seemingly junior member of the crew of bloggers assembled here at Science-Based Medicine, I feel as though I should be asking that question, although I hope that, in the weeks to come, I won’t end up giving the same impression in comparison to the rest of the august crew here as Admiral Stockdale unfortunately did during his debate with, of all people, Dan Quayle. No, I don’t want to be leading readers to wonder just what on earth Steve Novella was thinking when he invited me to blog here as a weekly regular. It doesn’t matter that I’m an NIH-funded surgical researcher who’s also been funded by the Department of Defense and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. All that says is that I’m pretty good at science and cancer research (or, if you’re more cynical, that I’m really good at persuading study sections that I do worthwhile research). Without a track record comparable to that of my co-bloggers writing about the issues that this blog will highlight, you might ask: Why should I be taken seriously?

It turns out that I’m not nearly as unknown on the Internet as many might think. A fair number of readers will probably recognize me from another incarnation for which I’m better known on Usenet and in the blogosphere and and that I’m no stranger to skepticism or skeptical writing. In fact, that other incarnation is more or less my alter-ego, the Hyde to my Jekyll. However, I was feeling a bit constrained by the persona that I had created for myself. Consequently, when Steve invited me to blog here, I jumped at the opportunity to shed it temporarily once a week for some serious discussion of the issues of what constitutes good scientific evidence for a medical or surgical therapy, how we can tell the difference between the dubious and the plausible, and why the vast majority of “alternative” medicine is the former and not the latter. Already, my co-bloggers and I have had some rather vigorous e-mail discussions about just these issues. You can look forward to the same sort of discussions over the weeks and months to come. (Certainly, I look forward to the intellectual stimulation that such discussions will bring.) It’s not that I didn’t do that sort of thing in my other incarnation; it’s just that I let certain facets of my personality dominate there, while here I will let my professional, more sober side be in charge. Hopefully it will be as informative, if not as entertaining, as my other writing. Or maybe it will be both. Either way, I will probably keep the two, for the most part, separate.

Or maybe not.

Finally, be sure to stop back later. One reason that I decided to post a brief and cryptic introduction, rather than the sorts of posts that Steve and Kimball have already done to kick things off, was because Steve really, really wants us to reliably post every weekday morning at least and, failing that, to let readers know why a post is delayed. The problem is, the issue about which I wanted to do my first post is a study that is embargoed until 3 PM Central Time today. My solution was amazingly simple: Blather a bit about myself this morning, and ask you to come back this afternoon for my first substantive post at 4:05 PM Eastern Time.

Truly, I know how to build blog traffic. But, then, I’ve done it before.

Posted in: Science and Medicine

Leave a Comment (10) ↓

10 thoughts on “Who am I? Why am I here?

  1. PalMD says:

    I, for one, look forward to being educated by your posts here. Thanks to all for starting up a site with such potential.

  2. Congratulations on joining such an elite group of commentators at what I expect to be a superb site. As a practicing surgeon and NIH and DoD-funded researcher, you have an exceptionally wide knowledge base and I anticipate some top-notch, science-based contributions herein. Thanks for taking the additional time from your busy schedule to be a catalyst in this dialogue.

  3. DaveCarlson says:

    Dr. Gorski,

    As someone who very much enjoys your other “persona,” let me say that I very much look forward to reading your contributions here!

  4. isles says:

    Wouldn’t that be the Hyde to your Jekyll?

    I like ‘em both. Can’t wait to read this afternoon!

  5. David Gorski says:

    Right you are! Nothing like a little mistake on my very first post…

  6. Dear Dr Gorski !

    I don’t know if it is the right place for my request, but lets try:

    We (some friends of mine, 7 over all, german physicians, medical students and 2 journalists), we observe since a few years the activities of a former collegue, Mr Ryke Geerd Hamer and his dangerous quackery new ‘germanic’ medicine. So far, this new medicine is not an imminent threat in english speaking countries, but it may become.

    We tried to describe this method and its inventor as well as we could and trie to find as many ‘hard’ references as we could. But there remains the problem that we are not native-english speaking people.

    So: is there anybody willing to help us to correct our pages about that method ? (spelling errors, grammar) We opened a wiki open for everybody to participate in our work. Our activities are the result of a long time of research and stimulated by close contact to many victims of that method, including long phone chats with relatives asking us to ‘do something’. A part from complaints that have been made in different countries, we think that neutral information is also the best ‘remedy’ in this case.


    Regards, Michael

  7. Nitelighter says:

    I am a diehard listener of The Skeptics Guide and I was very pleased to hear about this blog. It is about time science and medicine were put together in one place… :)

    Seriously, being a chronic pain sufferer I have had my ups and downs with cure-alls, myths and snake oil… all with the hope that I can somehow curb my pain or take an edge off here and there. I look forward to getting a ton of good information from your contributors and I sincerely thank you for putting this together.


  8. DLC says:

    It’s always good to see a quality blogger branch out.
    I look forward to seeing your work here, as I have elsewhere.
    Before the other writers here start wondering — I read their other blogs also.

  9. Tailspin says:

    Pity you had to sacrifice Stockdale as you searched for a catchy title. Kindofa cheap shot when you consider his only real sin was that he was terrible on TV. Besides 7 years in the Hanoi Hilton, he was President of the Naval War College, President of The Citadel, and a fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and wrote several books including two on philosphy. In fact what he said, your quote, was intended to reflect his utter astonishment at the fact that he was where he was, in a vice-presidential debate, not a statement of confusion.

    But more to the point, has anyone considered the meta issue: why the sudden upsurge in disregard for reality? It’s evident in medicine, politics, and especially so in religion (but then that’s always been the case). Too many rats in the cage?

  10. David Gorski says:

    I may have been too clever by half. Part of what was implicit in my invocation of Stockdale was that he was highly accomplished before he became Perot’s running mate, but no one knew who he was and he didn’t come off that way on TV. Similarly, I’m highly accomplished in the blogosphere in another guise but few know me. I was just hoping that I similarly didn’t come off as badly as Admiral Stockdale did.

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