I started this blog to help promote science and technological education. The name “Buckwild Nerdography” may seem evocative, even risqué, but it is more of a tongue in cheek reference to the way that the sciences and rational thinking are being treated in many corners of today’s world. At worst, it is a mildly satirical statement against the irrational fears that make the understanding of science, in particular evolutionary biology, climate change, theoretical physics, and other work that challenges long held dogmas based purely on belief so salacious. At best, it is a open embrace to the world of science and showing that knowledge and understanding are fun.
On challenging dogmas… let us not forget that it was not until 1451 when a mysterious flash filled the skies and then a supernova confirmed by Tycho Brahe in 1572 that Europeans even considered the outside world and cosmos anything but largely static at large scale. Everything then was it always had been and always was. The catastrophic death of a distant star was enough to sunder that belief.
Today, we face a situation where what was originally believed to be common sense is called into question, for better or worse. When it flies in the face of settled or primarily settled science, it is a problem. First and foremost, that springs to mind is the anti-vaxxer movement.
This has started the resurgence of diseases that were nearly extinct in developed countries, such as the measles, chicken pox, and polio. Yes. Polio is making a comeback. And why? Because a small contingent of individuals would rather have a sickly or dead child than risk autism, all because of an irresponsible doctor who pushed that the preservatives in vaccinations might cause autism in a minority of children — if only to make a name for himself and followed up by the vapid ramblings of a pinup star (no shame in that, but this is NOT someone we should take seriously when performing scientific or medical inquiry) claiming that her child was autistic because of the MMR vaccine. I refuse to identify either, because giving their names might lend credibility. My blog, my rules.
The rise in autism has less to do with the increase in vaccinations and more to do with environmental factors such as industrial pollutants, exposure to toxins and chemicals by the parents and the fetus in utero, exposure to microplastics in utero, genetic traits, and expanded diagnostic criteria. Many people are on the Autistic Spectrum and go on to live fruitful and happy lives. Only the most profoundly autistic require lifelong care, and that is a tragedy, but early intervention is key.
Long and short of it, get your kid vaccinated. If they are going to be autistic, that started in the womb and even more likely in the genetic memory. Engage with them, spend time with them, help them develop their social skills, and if they do indeed fall on the ASD, please seek interventions. Do not subject us, especially those of us with immunodeficiencies, to diseases that have no business having a resurgence in the modern world.
I have gone off a bit on a tangent, but the point is — do not let pseudoscience fool you into making poor decisions. It is my belief that many people shrink from true science because it is malleable and difficult. Science needs to be revised periodically as observations change and new data is gathered. People tend to like things that are hard and fast, and unchanging. There is no greater offense to many minds than change. Science is difficult. Science is hard. It requires patience and so much failure before you come to the right conclusion. And even then, you may need to revise that conclusion. That scares people. Pseudoscience offers easy answers and certainty.
A bit about myself, I am not scientist in the truest sense of the word. I have a degree in Computer Science from Oregon State University and I have a liberal arts degree from the University of California, at Berkeley. I understand scientific principles and the scientific method, but my field deals more in a specialized form of mathematics than ‘hard’ science such as physics, biology, or chemistry. Still, I am fascinated with these subjects and voraciously study up on them, even if I have no intention of pursuing higher education in any area beyond Computer Science. However, I do work that requires soundness and proofs of correctness. My ‘science’ is writing and creating algorithms, and writing software. I am an aspiring software engineer, finding mixed success, but always pushing forward and trying to learn more.
My day job generally involves building applications for people so they can run their businesses more efficiently or testing software given to me. My evenings are generally preoccupied with my home life, but I do take time to study algorithms and new coding languages to keep my skills sharp. It is a path often filled with doubt and dead ends. I am often stymied and frustrated that I am not learning as quickly as I feel I should. And that is fine. It is normal.
Now that introductions are made and you know a bit more about me, let’s get down to brass tacks. A lot of the focus of this blog is going to be on principles of computer science, because the best way to really hammer something down is to teach others about it, and my musings over various developments in the scientific community and my own experiences as a software engineer.
I will attempt, on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to write an article or two on something computer science and something else going on in the world to help break it down to the basics that most people can understand. It is my goal to improve scientific literacy and remove a lot of the scary mystique that exists out there about science and scientific inquiry.