About

I’m Bryan Killett. My personality is dominated by an affliction I call “terminal curiosity”. In other words, my desire to understand the universe is quite literally an unhealthy obsession that consumes the majority of my waking hours. Luckily I’m more interested in computational and theoretical physics than, say, volcanism. Otherwise as a teenager I probably would’ve wandered up the side of a volcano and died trying to peer into the caldera. Fortunately, I somehow managed to survive childhood and am currently a physics postdoc.

Ironically, I find it difficult to grasp most concepts (scientific or not). It seems to take me a long time to dispel my confusion and arrive at a conclusion that I find satisfactory. As a result, I often feel dumb when talking in real life or trying to understand a new topic.

I hope to express myself more coherently on the internet, but you should be warned that brevity isn’t one of my virtues. Also, I’m an obsessive-compulsive editor, so don’t be surprised if I edit or expand articles long after they first appear. When editing debates, my goal is to balance historical accuracyWhenever possible, links are added to the original versions of these debates. This way you can amuse yourself… if you’re really bored… by diff’ing them to laugh at the naive mistakes that I’ve since corrected, and the horrid state of my grammar before it’s repeatedly edited.
     Keep in mind that I write Dumb Scientist primarily for myself as an easily accessible archive of my thoughts and informal research. To that end, I value intelligible conceptual accuracy more than historical accuracy of my grammar, phrasing, original links and the dumb conceptual mistakes I often make in these debates.
with the most concise and accurate phrasingOther people’s comments are sometimes abridged, raw html addresses are turned into links, and sometimes I fix their grammatical errors. When quoting other people, I sometimes rearrange their comments to reduce the length of my response by grouping similar statements together.
     I modify my own comments to fix grammatical errors and insert newly discovered relevant links. Also, I try to correct my conceptual mistakes, but only if that doesn’t render the rest of the conversation incomprehensible. The alternative is to leave the mistakes in the debate, but add errata to correct them. I think the added confusion would impose an onerous burden given the already ridiculous lengths of some of my articles, and the fact that the original mistakes are usually accessible via links (unless the debate took place over email).
that occurs to me.

Despite the name, Dumb Scientist won’t focus exclusively on scientific topics. While some articles may be related to science or engineering, I tend to muse more often about philosophy and politics. This is because I find it more productive and pleasant to discuss these controversial topics in writing. The time-delayed nature of written debates can emphasize research, introspection and precisely crafted arguments rather than charisma. In real life I rarely– if ever– discuss these topics because the result is inevitably divisive, frustrating and futile.

Unfortunately, the “anonymity plus controversy equals incivility” phenomenon that plagues internet debates limits the signal-to-noise ratios of these conversations. For what it’s worth, I recommend reading this guide to disagreement. Your best chance of eliciting a reply from me is to post a comment that Paul Graham would rate as DH4 or higher. But just in case you really need to contact me privatelyI reserve the right to publicly post any emails which are insulting or threatening.:

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