Alright. She’s been giving me the evil eye and judging me for too long now. It’s time to pick her off the floor. It’s time to dust off the dandruff-covered old Ivory Embassy laptop and power up. Let’s pick up from where we left off and continue sharing knowledge.
I can’t help but feel I abandoned you – and myself – after my last post in mid-2020. It’s not cool, and I assure you, it wasn’t you… it was me… Life turned upside down right around the pandemic ramp-up, and many undealt issues, which needed my attention, resurfaced. In short, I had to let the blog suffer on the ice for a brief moment while I got my stuff together. That’s ok. You might read more about this turmoil in a future post, but for now, we gaze forward and let bygones be bygones.
I’ve been doing quite some thinking during my absence, believe it or not. Things changed. Heck, I changed. So, as a natural extension of my mind, the blog will follow in my footsteps. It’s time to gear up.
When we first launched the Ivory Embassy in 2017, our goal was to explain the concepts in biology and related research in a clear and fun way. For almost three years, you read about CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing, epigenetics, phase separation, and cancer treatments, to mention a few. And that’s all fine and dandy.
But, while I could keep on simplifying and explaining scientific topics for you, I can’t help but feel you need more than that, something more robust and sustainable. There are enough blogs explaining science, many of which do it elegantly and pedagogically. And that’s great. But, instead of chewing your food and feeding it to you ( as delicious as that may sound), I’d like to propose a different direction. How about if, every month, I offer you parts of a metaphorical cookbook titled “How we consume and communicate information and the tools you can use to start thinking critically and spotting bullshit (BS) information and bad science” [the title needs refining]. It’s an approach you’ve seen at the Embassy before, but we can emphasize it even more.
How to process all the available content
Using science, psychology, and philosophy as tools, we can dive into the deep waters of disinformation, misinformation, biases, ethical issues, dogmas, and paradigms. Ultimately, you’ll acquire the ability to shield yourself against BS. Today, more than ever, you need to be able to fence off BS, especially with cancel culture, censorship, and conspiracy theories being all too prevalent. But like one famous movie once said, “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo, but I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” [is he getting megalomaniac?] Because as the saying goes, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” [yep, definitely megalomania.]
I think you get the gist of my message. You’ll be acquiring tools that help you start thinking more methodologically, that is, in a more organized way, about how you receive and deliver information. You may or may not have realized it, but the informational arena has changed in the past years with the development of the internet and social media platforms. We’ve seen the rebirth of myths that we thought were defeated and buried for a long time. We’ve seen how some ideas and arguments have been silenced and censored, labeled misinformation or disinformation. How do you distinguish between trustworthy and manipulated content in this overwhelming blizzard of information?
I want to dig into these topics to understand what makes us resist or accept information and how we can improve critical thinking. What makes us skeptical? What makes us analyze? I believe there are many lessons to be learned that can benefit anyone in the long run. For instance, you’ll be able to use your newfound powers to tell better stories than the anti-vaxxer next door. I think you can also, finally, win that philosophical argument you’ve been having with your father-in-law for years. Most importantly, you should know how to identify the most reliable information, such as research articles, and learn how to read and digest the content.
We all carry an analytical scientist inside our skulls who wants to get out. The issue is that your inner scientist is a nerd. You just need to find the right way to ask the nerd out on a date.
So, that’s what I’m going to be up to. I’ll probably be doing it for myself at first, but eventually, I might get a small – albeit significant – following with whom I may be able to dialogue. In other words, we’ll be able to learn together.
If you’re interested, stay tuned for future posts. If you’re not, don’t sweat it, I’ll catch you somewhere else.