Saturday, January 27, 2018

I should have done this by now...

Today marks the day of 12 years of blogging. Twelve years! During this time, I've managed to remain a mysterious pseudonym to almost everyone. Very few people know who I am.

But a lot has changed since then. The Open Science movement, the rise of multiple platforms for critique, the Replication Crisis in social psychology, the emergence of methodological terrorists, data police, and destructo-critics. Assertive psychologists and statisticians with large social media presences have openly criticized flawed studies using much harsher language than I do. Using their own names. It's hard to stay relevant...

Having a pseudonym now seems quaint.

The most famous neuro-pseudonym of all, Neuroskeptic, interviewed me 2 years ago in a post on Pseudonyms in Science. He asked:

What led you to choose to blog under a pseudonym?

My answer:
It was for exactly the same reason that reviewers of papers and grants are anonymous: it gives you the ability to provide an honest critique without fear of retaliation. If peer review ever becomes completely open and transparent, then I’d have no need for a pseudonym any more.

In an ideal world, reviewers should be identified and held accountable for what they write. Then shoddy reviews and nasty comments would (presumably) become less common. We’ve all seen anonymous reviews that are incredibly insulting, mean, and unprofessional. So it’s hypocritical to say that bloggers are cowardly for hiding under pseudonyms, while staunchly upholding the institution of anonymous peer review. ...

Neuroskeptic also interviewed Neurobonkers (who went public) and Dr. Primestein (who has not).

Have you ever been tempted to drop the pseudonym and use your real name? What do you think would happen (positive and negative if you did?)

My answer:
. . .

If I were to drop the pseudonym, it might be good (and bad) for my career as a neuroscientist. I could finally take credit for my writing, but then I’d have to take all the blame too! But overall, it’s likely that less would happen than I currently imagine.

{At this point, most people probably don't care who I am.}

So what has changed? Have I left the field? No. But some serious and tragic life events have rendered my anonymity irrelevant. I just don't care any more.

In September, my closest childhood friend died from cancer (see Survival and Grief).

I'm on the right.

Then a month later, my wife was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. My sadness and depression and anxiety over this is beyond words.

I don't want to go into any more detail right now, but I'd like to show you who we are. We met via our blogs in 2006.

Snowshoeing on Mt. Seymour, December 2016
I'm on the left.

So yeah, think of this as my “coming out”. Sorry if I've offended anyone with my ability to blend into male-dominated settings.

Thank you for reading, and for your continued support during this difficult time.

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At January 28, 2018 5:51 AM, Blogger Bernard Carroll said...

I am pretty sure we can handle that. Bless you both.

At January 28, 2018 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Neurocritic,

I like your Blog for its insight, care, and humanism. These
are, for me, what make you the person I would say I know you
as, from your Blog. I try not to "see" people first through
the tinted lens of gender, colour, or any other ways we tend
to classify people. I like to "see," and know, people, for
their individual ways of being the person they are, without
any classification labels attached.

The deaths of close-by loved ones marks our life for the rest
of our days, I think (from experience). Such episodes change
us, and take time to work through. When the endings of these
people are traumatic and painful, it's difficult to stop this
experience dominating our rememberings of them afterwards.
But working to better balance these ending experiences with
the many more happy and fulfilling experiences we had with
these people, at other times in our life, helps, I think, in
finding a way to deal with their departing.

Tennyson was right, I think, when he wrote

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

in "In Memoriam A.H.H."

Best regards,


At January 28, 2018 9:36 AM, Blogger Martin Murphy said...

I love your writing, and I'm thinking of you both.

At January 28, 2018 10:13 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Thank you, Barney, I knew you could handle it. ;-)
I've always appreciated your support and friendship.

At January 28, 2018 10:14 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Tim -- Thank you for your thoughtful and touching comments. Very much appreciated.

At January 28, 2018 10:15 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Martin - Thanks for your support, it really matters.

At January 28, 2018 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your writings. It has been a pleasure to come back to this blog throughout the years, and I hope to keep doing the same for some time. I wish you all the best with life and its endless adversities.

At January 29, 2018 4:37 AM, Anonymous Ace said...

Awesome blog always. I’m so sorry you’re going through rough times. I am sending my best wishes.

At January 29, 2018 4:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your blog. I love your coming out. And I love that you have been 'able to blend into male-dominated settings' (ie most of the public world) and long may you continue to.

At January 29, 2018 6:22 AM, Anonymous DJ Jaffe said...

Thank you for all you do. Best of luck in recovery to both of you.
DJ Jaffe
Exec., Dir, Mental Illness Policy Org
Author, Insane Consequences: How the mental health industry fails the mentally ill (which mentions you glowingly in chapter on "solutions" which you are clearly one of).

At January 29, 2018 7:10 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I wish I could 'like' some of the comments above. I have always loved your blog and am sorry for the pain and loss you are experiencing. I'm very happy to see a woman behind the pseudonym.

Just breathe.

At January 29, 2018 5:47 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Thank you for the continued outpouring of support. It means a lot to me that you've appreciated the blog over the years, and that you've been so kind and caring about my current situation.

Hugs to all.

At January 30, 2018 1:06 AM, Blogger Johan said...

Congratulations on reaching this milestone and please know that we'd all be poorer without your contributions. Sorry to hear that you're going through a rough patch right now and I have you both in my thoughts. You'll pull through.

At January 30, 2018 7:22 AM, Blogger Mark Levison said...

Dear - Neurocritic thank you for all the years of writing this blog. As someone well outside this field - a computer scientist who focuses on helping organizations change - your taking apart poorly supported claims has made helped me navigate a world on neuroHype. I'm sorry that you face challenging times. Please know that you have the support of many.

Just one day at a time. Good Luck.

Mark Levison

At February 01, 2018 10:22 AM, Anonymous Maciej Kosilo said...

Thank you for all these years. This might not mean much, I'm not exactly a 'big name'. I started reading your blog during my undergrad - it contributed to my decision to pursue a PhD, which I finally got after some difficult years. I really think your writing made me a better scientist, for which I wanted to thank you.
This post has really moved me, having lost someone very close recently myself. I'm sorry, and I hope you'll pull through.


At February 01, 2018 11:37 AM, Blogger Maia Szalavitz said...

Wow, so sorry to hear this and thanks for all your wonderful work over the years.

At February 01, 2018 11:47 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I've read your blog for years and always appreciated your perspective. You and your wife are in my prayers.

At February 02, 2018 10:52 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Maia - Thank you! We appreciate your persistent advocacy on behalf of chronic pain patients. So very important.

Anne - Thanks, really appreciate it.

At February 02, 2018 10:56 AM, Blogger Maia Szalavitz said...

thanks!!! I hope that you will not have any issues in that area and I wish you both the best.

At February 02, 2018 10:57 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Also, thanks to Johan, Mark Levison, and Maciej for your kind words.

At February 03, 2018 9:01 PM, Blogger jonathan said...

sorry to hear the news about your wife, and sorry about your best friend too. I'm an autistic person who wished I could be a neuroscientist, but I was too impaired. Enjoyed some of your blog posts.

At February 04, 2018 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need Your blogs. Thanks!

At February 11, 2018 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read your blog for a long time now, and there's never been a post that I've not enjoyed reading. I'm so sorry that you're going through a hard time. IDK why I'd always assumed that you'd turn out to be a man; it seems so embarrassing now.

At February 11, 2018 11:46 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Thanks for appreciating the blog and for your caring sentiments. Don't feel too bad about that assumption -- I never corrected people's pronouns. And it's basically what I was trying to achieve.

At February 18, 2018 5:08 AM, Anonymous cheryl said...

I love reading your blog. Sorry, to hear your personal troubles. Yes, loss of a loved one is hard to bear particularly for us survivors who found love and caring after going
through a difficult childhood.

Love & Prayers during this difficult time.

At February 19, 2018 12:13 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Thanks to jonathan and cheryl for your caring words.

At February 20, 2018 5:21 PM, Blogger aligreco said...

I have relied on your frank words and clear mind for years. I am so sorry to hear of the pain and sadness you are living with; grief and fear are overwhelming companions. Take comfort where you can and continue to love deeply.

At April 02, 2018 9:33 PM, Anonymous NEha said...

I m sorry to hear all this and sadnesss. you have caring words

At April 02, 2018 9:34 PM, Anonymous sagar said...

I've read your blog for a long time now, and there's never been a post that I've not enjoyed reading. I'm so sorry that you're going through a hard time


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