If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them. -Isaac Asimov
Throughout my life, I have always been fascinated by science. I was always drawn to the science fiction of Isaac Asimov, because Asimov almost always avoided the Frankenstein meme in the genre. There is, of course, great drama in the mad scientist, or in science-gone-awry, or in the morality play of man-done-in-by-his-own-creation. But for Asimov, while science and technology were certainly not problem-free, science represented man’s salvation far more than his undoing. Asimov’s favorite protagonist, in fact, was the humanoid robot – a being that evolved to be greater, more moral, more wise, than its creators.
My interest in Asimov led me to an interest in science, first in astronomy, but later, as I went to college, in neuroscience. I earned my Ph.D. in Psychobiology and later did post-doctoral research in a department of anatomy and neurobiology. My area of research, throughout, has been in the neurobiology of the gustatory (taste) system, reflecting and stoking my academic interest in sensation and perception, nutrition, diet, and obesity. My academic positions have been in departments of psychology exclusively, and it is through having to teach introductory psychology topics that I have earned a great appreciation for psychological research outside of the biological subdisciplines. In particular I am fascinated by the cognitive and social influences on decision making.
In a sense, then, this blog represents an homage to Dr. Asimov in two ways. Like Asimov, I have a curiosity that ranges far beyond my own discipline (though ironically, while Asimov’s fiction often involved psychological issues, particularly social psychological issues, he rarely wrote much non-fiction about psychology). But second, the blog is my attempt to do a little of what Asimov did so well – write about science for a non-academic audience. I am inspired by the many science-themed blogs on Word Press and elsewhere.
What I intend to do mostly is to write about the topics I am currently teaching about. Currently, my teaching repertoire includes:
- Introduction to Psychology
- Statistics and Research Methods
- The Limits of Rationality (science vs. pseudoscience)
- Physiological Psychology
- Sensation and Perception
- The Mind-Body Problem
- The Psychology of Eating
In general, then, I am interested in the connections between the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy, with a growing special interest in decision making and logic and in separating science myth from science fact.