The National Post, a large Canadian newspaper, has a long article about quantitative self-tracking. Overall I like it. It looks at the subject in five or six ways, it focuses on examples of self-tracking rather than people generalizing about it, and, best of all, it includes actual data.
I wasn’t so pleased with the treatment of my work. First, the graph showing my butter data was wrongly labeled and the dividing line between before butter and during butter put in the wrong place. (These mistakes have been fixed.)Â Second, the description of my acne experiments — my dermatologist prescribed Medicines A and B, I found that only B worked — misses the point. True, I found that B worked better than A but far more interesting is that Medicine A (an antibiotic) didn’t work at all. Contrary to what I believed. Antibiotics are dangerous. How many people are taking dangerous drugs with no benefit? Third, the written description of my butter research doesn’t say the main point: butter improved my brain function in the sense that I did arithmetic faster. Instead it says I found butter was better than “standing on something painful”. A billion people would like better-functioning brains. None of them care whether butter is better than standing on something painful.
I pointed out the last two problems to Kathryn Carlson, the author of the article. She replied that in the future she would call me to go over the accuracy of the relevant parts of the article. I had considered asking the people who made the graph to show it to me but had thought because they had my graph of the same data in front of them, they couldn’t go wrong.
A good lesson for me.