Scientific American article series on self-experimenters

While investigating insomnia I came across this 2008 series of Scientific American articles on eight people who’ve been experimenting on themselves to investigate a variety of hypotheses. The subjects include a cybernetics professor who’s wired his nervous system to a computer, the playwright who made the movie “Super Size Me,” and a cardiologist who tried an obscure drug to stop his alcohol binging.

The fella after my own heart is Seth Roberts, who after ten years of experimenting, finally resolved his insomnia by moving breakfast back a few hours. He also curbed his overeating by ingesting several tablespoons of vegetable oil a day and as a result lost a significant amount of weight. Then he wrote a diet book about it and gained a significant amount of attention.

One expert’s response to it:

“Experimenters who test ideas on themselves may be biased to produce the result they expect to see,” says David Katz, an internist and associate professor adjunct at Yale School of Public Health.

…which jibes with my experience with the so-called expert (SCE) in Chronic Fatigue at the Cleveland Clinic. I had gone to check once and for all that I do not qualify for the diagnosis (I don’t, thank God) and when I mentioned that I had occasionally gotten tantalizing increases in energy from large doses of zinc, after years and years of trying everything, the SCE said it was in my mind: I wanted it to work and it did. When I pointed out that 80% of the things I tried didn’t work, he changed the subject. Then he offered me an antidepressant.

Roberts, a professor at UC Berkeley, has his own website where he’s posted the reports he wrote on his own experiments, should you happen to need a good example of scientific method usage.

3 thoughts on “Scientific American article series on self-experimenters

  1. Steph

    Hello! I’m enjoying your blog.

    Last spring I put myself on supplement recommendations of the Perfect Health Diet, and it was truly amazing, how my mental health improved. My one regret is that I didn’t add them one at a time to see what was doing what. I think selenium is what gave a nice kick in the pants to my OCD symptoms.

    Like you, I’m hypothyroid, and have found improvement avoiding gluten and goitrogens. Armour thyroid intrigues and frightens me (I’m in syntheroid).

    Re: you chocolate cravings, I have heard anecdotally that zinc can help with that, but as you’re already on zinc (with imaginary results, ha ha) I guess not. I can say that my sugar cravings went away when I started eating more starch. Don’t know if it would work for chocolate.

    Good luck with all this! I’ll enjoy checking back.

    Reply
    1. Marjorie

      I’d never heard of the Perfect Health Diet site so I checked out their website and discovered that there is a better selenium supplement than what I use, which I avoid taking because it makes me feel weird somehow. I’ll add that to my list of things to try…. I took Armour before they reformulated it, and a lot of people feel it doesn’t work as well now. According to the Stop the Thryoid Madness site, there are other desicated thyroid products to try besides Armour…and I never got the appeal of Duran Duran either.

    2. Steph

      Ha ha! Thank you! That whole period of music had some major head scratchers.

      I’ll check in to see what else you discover in your self-experiment. Good luck!

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