• When it comes to food, I don’t use the word “disgusting” very much. People like what they like — you might personally dislike something, but like… that doesn’t mean that it’s objectively gross or weird. It just isn’t your preference.

    But there was one comestible that I used to think was absolutely vile: honey mustard sauce. You know those little rectangular cup things that sometimes come with things like chicken nuggets? Painfully gross. I had a friend in high school who would take those little packets and spread honey mustard sauce all over his pepperoni pizza. He had a lot of problems in life, and honey mustard was but one of them. Rest in peace, Chad Weaver, you honey mustard loving freak.

    I hated, hated, hated honey mustard. People would always give that stock line of “oh, you just haven’t had good honey mustard sauce, that’s why you don’t like it!” And then they would make honey mustard sauce, and I’d taste it, and I’d be like “yeeeeaaahhh, I don’t like this either. Sorry”

    Then, I met an intelligent, lovely, and talented person, who I ended up marrying a few years later. She was a vegan and a complete whiz in the kitchen. After about a year of dating, she told me that she wanted to make one of her favorite dishes for me: honey mustard tofu. Her mother’s honey mustard sauce recipe, but made vegan (depending on your stance on whether honey is, itself, vegan).

    The words rang in my ears. 

    …Continue reading…

  • “Comedy is a very powerful component of life. It has the most to say about the human condition because if you laugh you can get by. You can struggle when things are bad if you have a sense of humor. Laughter is a protest scream against death, against the long goodbye.”

    Mel Brooks, All About Me: My Remarkable Life in Show Business

  • “Although these points of view do reflect the prevailing empirical climate of our times, they fail to express more than a small part of the value of personal documents for social science. Properly used, such documents anchor a discipline in the bedrock of human experience, make the most of the predilective value of the single case in the normal process of human thought, exploit the idiographic principles of reasoning, and aid in meeting (more adequately than can unaided actuarial methods of work) the three critical tests of science: understanding, prediction, and control.”

    Allport, G. W. (1942). The use of personal documents in psychological science. Social Science Research Council.

  • In science, we virtually never deal in absolutes. Especially in Psychology and the social sciences, we are exceedingly careful to acknowledge that virtually every aspect of the mind, mental life, and the human condition is insanely multi-determined, and there is almost never a one-to-one correspondence between Thing A and Thing B. With that context, I choose my next statement carefully.

    A bad peer reviewer is always a bad scientist.

    There, I said it. In scientific publishing, there are numerous clichés and tropes about how we “hate” bad reviewers, how “Reviewer 2” is always making unrealistic demands that no sane scholar would ever request, and on, and on, and on. These tropes are often more memetic than anything — cultural in-jokes that serve as idle, mindless, water-cooler chitchat.

    But, holy smokes, I really mean it: a bad peer reviewer is always a bad scientist. It means that you’re missing the entire point of scientific inquiry, scholarship, and just good, old-fashioned critical thinking. Science is a really special pursuit, dedicated to collective forward progress and knowledge building for humanity. I place special emphasis on collective here — we’re all in this together, folks. And, ultimately, the logical conclusion here is that if you’re a bad reviewer, you’re actually undermining science itself.

    As a peer reviewer, you carry the genuinely important responsibility of providing high-quality feedback to authors. When you provide a high-quality review, everyone benefits from the process: the authors, editors, and everyone who eventually reads the paper that (eventually) gets published.

    …Continue reading…

  • This recipe may seem way less exciting than the vegan pumpkin pie recipe. Like… it’s just gravy, right? Even a so-so gravy is still gravy. Gravy is a sidekick that nobody pays attention to. Gravy, my friends, is never the star. Heck, if the meal is done nicely, you might even skip the gravy altogether. Gravy… who cares?!

    You’d be totally justified in thinking all of these things. But you’d be wrong.

    Let’s travel back in time to the very same “Ryan’s first vegan Thanksgiving.” I had told you all that I pulled down recipes for lots of the staples — vegan stuffing, vegan roast, etc. etc. One of those recipes was for vegan gravy. I made this recipe the very first year, and it turned out quite nicely. “Actually,” I thought, “…this is pretty damn good. I’m going to just keep using that.”

    No big deal, right? A pretty good gravy — great. We’re all very happy for you, Ryan. Why, sweet mercy, why are you wasting our time with this?

    Let me just say this: apparently, this is no ordinary gravy. Over the years, I’ve had multiple Thanksgiving guests from all over the world. Colleagues from England. Dear friends from Italy. Fellow scientists from China. Family members, acquaintances, and even a few people that I just plain don’t like. Across all of these people, vegan or otherwise, one pattern has emerged: there’s always someone who stops eating and says “What the… where the hell did you get this gravy?

    …Continue reading…