every year or so, the error bar is forced to re-consider why its doors are open. this year, the answer is that the error bar is a space, a blog, a sketch pad & a repository for news, critique & opinion that will likely never be fully-baked.  

this story was in episode 33 #podcast #science #blog #repository #opinion

the error bar says

during a particularly-moist evening session in the bar last Wednesday, i was asked: 'why do you do a podcast?'

after spluttering the usual: 'why does anyone have a website or a social media account or update their google scholar profile, or write a blog? why does anyone even do or say anything to anyone any more anyway?' i bought another round of drinks & deftly moved the conversation onto something more triggering.

since then, i've wondered, again, why the bar is open. for any new or old listeners of the audio version, or readers of the text version, or retweeters of the social media version, this is why.

first, for many years, most of my outrage at how poorly some science is done, or how poorly it can be communicated, was confined to chats in the pub, questions at seminars, or stolen conversations at scientific conferences. the COVID pandemic stopped all of that. without this podcast to let off my super-heated air, the critical nuclear reactor in my brain would have gone, er, critical.

second, without the error bar, i'd feel a certain need to write & publish commentaries on some of the science that i come across that i feel needed such a comment or correction. with the error bar, i can instead just focus on writing the one or two papers each year that i actually care about.

third, i hope that the error bar provides a service to those of you who might otherwise feel you need to read the Daily Mail, just in case they write a story about a scientific topic you care about. to be honest: if you don't work on animals, AI or dementia, then i wouldn't worry too much about that.

fourth, it's fun. it's weirdly fun. it's nerdly fun. it also involves signal processing & database programming which are two of my favourite pastimes.

if you like the error bar, then please tell a friend or colleague to listen, share on twitter or another animal-based microblogging site, put a link to an episode, story, or interview in your teaching materials, or just stand outside the BBC until they yield to your demand that i be given a five minute prime time slot every week.


thanks for listening