I recently (and successfully) defended my doctoral dissertation in social psychology at Arizona State University (don't call me Dr. until the degree confers in December, 2015, or just don't call me Dr...) My substantive research focuses on envy, its various forms, and the personality traits that predict it. I have equally strong interests in metholodogical validity and statistics.
I ended a nine-year career in the software industry to become a social scientist. Stage 1 was getting a B.S. in Psychology at Arizona State University, where I worked as research assistant in the Cialidini Lab and in the Zautra and Davis clinical lab.
I started graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in Barb Fredrickson's positive emotions lab. I ultimately transferred to the social psychology program at Arizona State University, and shifted my focus to a negative emotion – envy. I still have strong interests in positive psychology – I've published a chapter on richer measures of human well-being, and more publications in that area are in preparation.
I'm a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and I have basic training in neuroscience and imaging. I took a graduate course in fMRI at Duke, and helped run a pilot fMRI study. In 2009, I completed the SPINES program in neuroscience at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, a place full of wonderment and joy and lobster rolls. In addition to working with squid and crawfish axons, we dissected human cadaver brains, courtesy of El Jefe, Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa.
You can see some of my work on the Research page. More coming soon, especially on the empirical side.
Thyroid cancer project
I was partly sidelined for much of graduate school – I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in April of 2010, and the treatments cratered me. Normally, thyroid cancer is the cancer to have, if you're going to have cancer – very treatable, very unlikely to kill you. I was evidently part of a small percentage of patients who are more depleted by the treatments.
Thankfully that's behind me, but my experience with doctors and health care was alarming. A lot of people are suffering unnecessarily. I want to do what I can to help other people struck by thyroid cancer and other thyroid conditions.
I'm convinced that the crude cognitive operations of the conventional endocrinologist can be replaced by an Excel spreadsheet, but we can do much better than that. I expected doctors to be scientific, to dig into a problem and account for multiple variables. I expected to be able to stand at a whiteboard with my doctor, drawing up interactions between different hormones, isolating variables (you laugh). That's not remotely the reality, as most of you know.
So I want to build a powerful mobile app for thyroid cancer patients – an app that makes it easy to track multiple variables, tune dosage, test deliberately varied vs. constant dosage, account for placebos, and run correlation analyses to look for patterns. This has broader applications beyond thyroid issues.
I've seen nothing like this out there, nothing with the analytical power I envision, and nothing that was trivially easy for the user. We're not being nearly scientific enough with health care. I make no promises as far as a timeline for release is concerned – I'm kind of busy. And I need to learn more about Android and iOS app development to do it right.
If anyone is interested in helping, whether as a Java or Objective-C developer, or as a UI/UX designer, e-mail me – I'd love your help. I can send you the conceptual layout, and the kind of math it needs to do, and get your feedback.
I was born in Tucson and grew up in small copper-mining towns in the southern Arizona desert. I spent a lot of summers in South Tucson (East LA with better food), where my grandparents lived. My mom is a secretary, my stepdad works in a copper smelter, and dad is a clerk.
My parents are both immigrants from Mexico – they came with their families as children. Arizona has been a bitter place for Mexicans in recent years. Most salient example: I formally debated Russell Pearce, the now disgraced former State Senator and architect of SB1070, at a forum a few years ago. Afterwards, one of the GOP organizers of the forum circulated e-mails calling me "Mexican Joe", a "tortilla lover", and an "illegal immigrant child". Only the first two charges are true.
Relatedly, my debunkings of invalid and leftist-biased social science and rigged climate consensus studies should not imply that I'm a conservative (or an AGW skeptic.) I just happened to be born during a bad time for academia, especially the humanities, and by proximity, the social sciences (which are quite young, as sciences go – I tend to think in terms of centuries and millenia, not years or decades.)
Since there's almost no intellectual diversity and no thought of bias-correction procedures, one ideology has become embedded in ostensibly scientific research – sometimes invalidating that research in surprising ways. I don't want to be the science cop – I'd much rather have been born into an advanced civilization, where it would be impossible to do "science" with such crude biases and invalid methods, where I'd never have to deal with such extreme malpractice (if original position preference reasoning has any meaning.) I like to do things that are hard, not things that are easy or obvious. A lot of the scam research is obvious, and civilization shouldn't need random Mexicans to come along and point it out.
I think it's vulgar for scientists to need to talk about their political views. But I've learned that the first thing many modern academics do in the face of dissent is to question "motives", or highlight the dissenter's heterodox political leanings, as though politics is the alpha and the omega. I'm not a conservative or Republican (not that there's anything wrong with that.) I'm a secular libertarian, though much more empirical than I was before becoming a social scientist. I think conservatives have good intuitions in some areas, and I think we'd all benefit if we had more of them in academia (and more libertarians, as well as more non-lefists of all kinds.) I favor a baseline epistemic modesty – a real consideration that we might be wrong, about a lot. I don't think you can be a good scholar if you never consider that your basic framework – your deepest assumptions – might simply be false. Academic and scientific monocultures worry me.
Before all this, I worked in the software industry for nine years, as a quality and testing manager, and business requirements analyst. I worked for a couple of failed Internet startups, and larger companies like Intuit and Arizona Public Service (electric utility). I was a laborer for a couple of years in my early 20s: janitor, forklift operator, day labor.
FYI, my name is Joe most of the time. In graduate school, I've drifted toward José because of the officious nature of academic publishing. It seemed appropriate to use my full legal name, or perhaps even to assert my Mexicanity, as Michael Scott would say. Most people know me as Joe, or by hard vato names like AD. I'm fluent in Chicano Spanish, semi-fluent in normal Spanish, and speak a little Russian.