Thursday, February 23, 2006

Write this down, or remember it, or something

Disclaimer: incomplete thoughts to follow please do not ask for clarification.

This one's more for me, sort of a mental post-it note which I thought some of my science oriented readers and/or starting-to-build-a-career type readers might find of interest.

Today I had a rather illuminating thought upon the nature of my indecision regarding graduate school and (unlikely but possible I suppose) medical school.

In my hormones and behavior class we read a Science paper from 1964 concerning strong inference which I thought clarified a lot of my feelings regarding "good" and "bad" science. At the time I recall noticing that it helped me to think through some of the beginnings of my current pseudo-disillusionment and indeed, I believe it is in part responsible for precipitating today's thought process.

There seems to be a lot more problem-posing in research than problem-solving. In the medical profession at least there is the very interesting (to me) and immediate need to decode symptoms into a diseases to be treated.

inquisitiveness is imperative in research of course, but while we may be problem-solving on a Grand scale it doesn't match up quite well with what I crave and excel in (or so I have come to believe): piecing clues together to resolve immediate concerns/problems. In other words, a lot of what I see in research is posing a question to clarify an already-evident partial answer: yes we know this happens, but why/how does it happen?

This all draws together with strong inference although it might not be evident to the casual reader (or really anyone besides me) in that ideally the driving force behind a lot of medicine is almost entirely reliant on inference. That is, diseases from symptoms. I find that this is so very often lacking from other biological research and this is why I don't believe that I would be content in most standard biology graduate programs.

So the key words/thoughts are:

Problem solving
Diseases ecology -> disease control -> Public policy

And now I'm tossing this stream of consciousness up unproofread...

I think I will be posting chunks of my statement of purpose draft up here for constructive criticism/suggestions/input.

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