Chaos of Delight Episode 2
I’m on the verge of having a big science poo
So the real delight for me comes in two different places; one is when you realise that you’ve come across a beautiful explanatory structure. For example, when you realise you’ve got one little story which will allow you to broaden out and explain interesting principles and problems in science much more broadly. And also that your starting trigger has emotional oomph that will get people in through the door, but it’s not just historical biography oomph, it is actually, like, the structure of the bad behaviour and the problem is reflected in the structure of the scientific distortion. That kind of poetry in bad behaviour really gives me big thrills.
But also, actually, I’m on the verge of having a big science poo, like, I’ve got about three pieces of original research 80% finished and I’ve gotta get out of this room and go and finish them right now. And, you know, like everybody else’s stuff in science they’re just little contributions, but they’re important to me and they’re clever and interesting and they were new uses of currently accessible data which I’ve had to munge and repurpose and properly analyse and I found stuff out. And it’s not earth shattering, it’s part of a bigger picture; it’ll get cited by other people also doing stuff in that area. But I know it right now and not only do you not know it but nobody knows it. It exists only in the tables and the Kaplan–Meier plot that is an emergent property of my stata code and the data on my tiny little laptop, my 11-inch laptop that is in that bag over there that I carry with me everywhere I go. Like, all I had to do was do a masters in epidemiology, learn how to code stata, munge it, analyse it, and it’s there, like, the sort of raw material has been turned into knowledge. Like, I’ve gone from data to knowledge and it invites a small, modest policy change. So it’s the journey from data to knowledge to, well, wisdom is the cheesy sort of trinity but that’s…you know…data to knowledge to doing something about it. And being able to do that on a thing I can almost fit in my coat pocket is really wild. It makes me feel like, um, that bit in the Fat Freddy comics – and we’ve just lost a lot of people there – where the mice find Fat Freddy’s amphetamines, and there’s this panel where the mice, like, sit bolt upright and go ‘I have hands, why aren’t I running this ship?’ And that feeling of, of being able to take nothing, chaos and find a pattern in it is really, you know, it’s driven a lot of people to tolerate lecturer salaries with London rents for a long time and it’ll never go away.