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kmdouglass comments on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) - Less Wrong

42 Post author: orthonormal 12 August 2010 01:08AM

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Comment author: kmdouglass 26 December 2011 03:45:01AM 5 points [-]

Hello everyone, I'm a 27 year old graduate student pursuing a degree in optics from the University of Central Florida. I perform experimental research in optical sensing of biological and random materials. Though I enjoy my research, I'm more interested in the philosophy of science. By philosophy of science I mean the framework of logical structures that scientists use to identify problems and arrive at solutions. Most of my colleagues, myself included, received no formal education of this type; rather, our educations were limited to the theory and application of the hard sciences while it was assumed that we would develop a framework for rational thought as a consequence. However, I see many working scientists fail to employ rational thought, especially in the lab, and I believe the inclusion of this topic in engineering and science curricula would better prepare students for graduate and industrial work.

I feel that a brief history of how I came to understand rationality would help describe who I am. I first became attuned, so to speak, to rationalism when I read Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals in college. I was raised protestant but throughout my life had felt no affinity for the Christian world view. However, growing up in rural Ohio afforded me no other mode of thinking. GoM's criticism of ascetics, along with increasingly frequent encounters with liberal thought in college, led me to embrace my skepticism for the first time.

I read Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance my first year in graduate school. I've since read it twice more and, while I still can't claim to fully understand Pirsig's message, mark it as a major influence on my thinking, especially on practical problem solving.

The most recent event in my maturation as a rationalist is the discovery of both this blog and Julia and Jesse Galef's Measure of Doubt. Though it seems a bit silly now, I honestly didn't realize that other people thought the same way I did. It's quite refreshing to learn that whole communities of like-minded people exist when one has been more-or-less secluded from them their entire life.

Aside from my interests in philosophy and science, I find environmentalism fascinating and feel morally obligated to make environmentally conscious decisions. I like to travel, rock climb, bicycle, cook, and brew beer. I'm happy to share more and am looking forward to learning from others on this blog.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 December 2011 03:56:08AM 1 point [-]

Do you do any photoacoustic tomography, or is your work purely optical? I'm a math grad student in that area.

I'm also from Ohio, the Cincinnati area. Hi!

Comment author: kmdouglass 26 December 2011 01:12:30PM 1 point [-]

No, I do not do any work in that area, though I am vaguely familiar with it, having attended a few talks on the subject. However, the mathematics of solving the associated inverse problem is extremely relevant to the type of work that I do.

It's great to meet another Ohioan. I was just driving through Cincinnati a few days ago.

Cheers, -kmd