“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.