For a sample of what I write about, you could try some of these posts and publications — either my own favourites, or pieces that proved popular.
In February 2009 I wrote a series of sixteen posts reviewing The Origin Of Species, hoping to find something to say that was interest and also different to the comments of the other bloggers who were reading the book at the time.
And a few of my better hardcore science posts riffing off current research in an attempt to explore something interesting:
- Angiogenesis and the mammography paradox: why cancer screening can be a bad thing in certain scenarios.
- Cancer genomes: on the current state of tumour genome sequencing, and why it’s not all that useful yet — but will be very soon.
- Model Splicing: on the mechanism by which several varieties of a protein can be encoded by a single gene.
- Down’s syndrome as a tumour suppressor: on the molecular biology behind the curious observation that people with Down’s syndrome have an unusually low incidence of solid tumour cancers.
I also write a bit about themes of bad science: pseudoscience, skepticism, and how science works. In arguments over science, skepticism, and alternative medicine, I regularly have to whip out my Lay Science post on Lies, Damned Lies, and Tissue Culture, which explains why you need to be cautious about claims of miracle cures and sinister health threats which cite only cells in a dish as their evidence.
I like shouting at my radio and laying into those who say and write silly things about science and medicine. So one of my favourite things to write was a review of The Selfish Genius, a book that claims to explain why modern molecular biology invalidates neo-Darwinian evolutionary biology, and one of the worst pieces of popular science I’ve ever read.
Selected short stories and flash fiction, usually with a science and skepticism theme:
- The Gower Street Cuckoos (PDF): a silly sci-fi horror story of telepathic psychopathic cell culture, first published in Nature‘s “futures”.
- Parts of the seven miracle cures of Chuck Quackenbush, a humorous series making fun of media coverage of medical science: Press Release and Smudges.
- Untitled Extract: on laboratory culture in the US.
- Platform One: on skepticism versus denialism, and the methods of Spiked! magazine.
- Subluxations and Subpoenas: a Dan Brown parody, set in the worlds of homeopathy and chiropractic.
- Open doors other side: a Chuck Quackenbush short story, on the stigma of leaving research science.
- Untitled: a humorous tale of trade union bureaucracy.
On cotch dot net I post the occasional short photo essay. Some popular ones were:
- Battersea, in all its desolation: on the corporate vandalism of Battersea Power Station.
- This is Cincinnati: on the decay of a Midwestern inner-city.
- Landslide victory: on the collapsing hillside at Mam Tor in Derbyshire.
- Neighbourhood and Neighbourhood II: more pictures, not so many words, on South East London.
Occasionally short essays are also posted on individual photos on flickr.
Warring with the Motorist
Finally, something a bit different, with At War With The Motorist: an often sarcastic blog about streets and transport: from evidence-based policy to transport psychology, via public health and bad economics.
- Passive driving, an introduction to why the motor car is increasingly recognised as the largest public health threat today.
- The man who crossed the road, a somewhat different eulogy for Brian Haw.
- DafT’s deeply regressive fantasy formula, on the cargo-cult science of the Department for Transport.
- Business models, on how much we rely on illegal and dangerous driving.
- State intervention, on the confused thinking about transport and behaviour change.
- On evidence-based medicine and bicycle helmets, starting with an introduction to evidence-based medicine, a discussion of the strength of evidence, the overlooked side-effects, and how doctors failed to take an evidence-based approach to this intervention, amongst others.
- Old and new absurd solutions to transport problems, from jetpacks and personal hoverboards to hovertrains, and other ideas that overcomplicate things.
- On cycling and cycling campaigning, attempting to inject a bit of skeptical thinking and evidence-based policy:
- Fear of cycling, discussing traffic as the primary barrier to cycling.
- I was a cyclist, on the British coping mechanism for cycling in traffic.
- Build it and they will come, on traffic separation as the solution to the traffic as a barrier to cycling.
- Cycling’s bogeyman, on the fear that separation will make things worse.
- “Revenge and road danger, on suggested alternatives to separation, and Can drivers be taught a lesson, exploring the evidence for whether education programmes for motorists could ever solve the fear of traffic problem.
- Bristol’s Railway Path is becoming a victim of its own success, a piece I did for The Guardian about the Bristol and Bath Railway Path as an example of the type of infrastructure that tears through the barriers to cycling.
- Debunking myths about motoring: Driving has never cost more, and Britain pays more for petrol than anywhere else, leading to the conclusion that, since “road tax” doesn’t cover the externalities of motoring, motorists need a different kind of help than government subsidy.
- Car-free holiday ideas: Rannoch Moor by bicycle, the Lake District by bus, and Snowdonia by train.