WHAT MOTIVATED THIS SITE
Below are some of the ideas that engendered this site. Read them if you like, or go to the Patient or Physician, or Scientist sections and read what interests you. Should you have a taste for philosophy read on. If that taste is extreme enough to concern how science and medicine interact to produce patient care, try the odd section that offers the logic on which this site is based.
What is the point of a blog website?
You might wonder why have we undertaken to produce a blog website; after all, we do not lack other means to communicate.
Like most active investigators, we write our share of research papers, of scientific and clinical reviews, book chapters, and even textbooks. In truth, we are editing a new kidney stone textbook right now. In the past we produced a newsletter for our our patients and their doctors. That could be done again, especially with the web. It would be like a blog.
Isn’t all of that enough?
It was not, but why not was not exactly clear. What was it a blog website could do that we could not do simply by writing more papers, or a book, or a newsletter?
This was a puzzle. Who was it we wanted to reach? What was the specific purpose and how would people benefit? Who would benefit? After all, who would follow blogs that offered no benefits?
With time, and a lot of experimenting, I think I have some answers, and offer them here.
To make one point at a time
A blog post is not a book chapter, a review article, a scientific article, or even a newsletter but something else entirely. It is the exact right size to convey one point and no more. It has no room for ornament or circumlocution, for fuzziness or indirection or even for two different points. You cannot avoid that moment when the main point must ring out clearly.
So what? Why is this important? By the way, what exactly is a point?
A point, at least in my chosen field of medicine, seems to me a generally true statement, meaning a statement that applies most of the time, one that will, if put into action, achieve what it intends. For patients it is something about their illness or treatment that they can use to make things better for themselves. For doctors it is a medical generalization, something true about stone prevention or management – for that is what we do here – which will work for their patients if put into practice. For scientists, it is a scientific generalization that has been experimentally tested and is accepted as part of the theory of the science; it has value because it can predict what has not as yet been observed.
Being a singular, real, and immediate focus of attention, a point is something to work with. We can debate it, dissect it, even dismiss it if evidence permits or its logic is flawed. If a point appears to be sound, people can accept it as true for the moment, as an element that can be put together with like elements to make a picture of reality for this one disease. It is a picture that is true for the moment, arising as it does from science, just as the moment caught up in the pointillist net of Georges Seurat’s exquisite Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, being great art, will be true forever.
So it is we are embarked and bound away on this singular enterprise. At least I am, and I know my colleagues are happy to come along. Every week or two we will try to put up some one point with evidence which seems to make it true enough for consideration. If it is a good one, a point can be used by all three estates, patients for their betterment, physicians to enliven their practices, and scientists to progress their research.
But a point can never be alone
Is anything ever easy?
Being solitary, a point lacks perspective, syntax, and context. It is a particle, a bright point of color on a gorgeous canvas, part of the dog’s tail, perhaps, or the vast expanse of a lady’s skirt. Points make up something larger, for which – in the case of writing – the word ‘topic’ will do: subject, issue, theme, concern, or question. That is where this home page comes in, and the home pages for the three great divisions of the site, and the emails we will send about each new set of posts. They are here to hold things together.
Who, exactly, are ‘we’?
‘We’, at the moment, is me. I am writing this welcome note and I have written almost all the materials presently on this site.
But ‘we’ are vastly more than me as I could not sustain a venture of this size, nor want to.
My two physician partners Drs. Elaine Worcester and Anna Zisman will be writing posts and it is with them I share research, and share responsibility for all of our many thousands of patients. Other scientists work with us here and elsewhere; they are part of ‘we’. Likewise for the people who make the program work. ‘About us‘ shows everyone, who is a part of the ‘we’ I have referred to.
But in a more extended way, I hope ‘we’ is a lot larger than us. I hope ‘we’ can involve the entire community of kidney stone researchers, and lure at least some to write here. Likewise for physicians who care for stone patients and feel some desire to offer what they have learned.
Most of all, ‘we’ includes everyone, here and everywhere, who forms stones, or has a relative or a friend with them. Their comments to our posts, and ideally some posts from their ranks, surely must be of highest value. For it is patients themselves who are witness to the truth of their own illness and can say what no one else can say having experienced what no one else has experienced.
Why is my picture on all the posts?
It is not. The post by Dr. Evan has his picture. But otherwise, I have written them all. If you write a post you will have your thumbnail picture at the upper left, as mine are now. Soon we should have a picture gallery here. But in the time till then, because a rule is nothing if not followed, I am the main writer, and have installed my thumbnail in that place which I hope will soon be taken by many others.
Fredric L Coe MD