About Stephen and the blog

About Stephen Matheson

About Quintessence of Dust

Quintessence of Dust emerged from hiatus in January 2023, because it's time to write.

Quintessence of Dust explores science, society, and human nature, focusing on genetics, development, evolution, neuroscience, systems biology, and topics related to scientific literacy. I occasionally discuss intelligent design, misinformation, science denial, and other political/social influences on scientific literacy. Additional topics: scientific writing, scientific culture, baseball, philosophy, books I'm reading, and Shakespeare. One main theme is scientific explanation.

At times, I discuss a recent article in the scientific literature. I will bias my selections toward open-access papers so that readers can read the articles themselves regardless of academic affiliation.

For basics on my perspectives, see my 2007 post on common descent and explanation. My very first post has a little more detail about the blog, and my second one explains the name. The original About page description from 2007 is here.

The header image highlights my favorite things: Shakespeare, neuroscience (that's my brain), genetics, Scotland and all things British (the Celtic cross), developmental biology (that's a human embryo, image from Wellcome Images, as of 2007), and evolution. The Celtic cross (the famous St. Martin's cross in Iona) also formerly represented Christianity on my blog. I'm no longer a Christian, but I'm happy to acknowledge Christian cultural contributions. However, all of my writing before 2014 (the year of my deconversion, or I would say emancipation) was influenced by my Christian beliefs, which I described in detail when I started the blog.

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Disclaimers and disclosures
  • All writing on Quintessence of Dust expresses my personal views, and none expresses or implies the views or policies of my employer.
  • My work as an editorial director places some constraints on what I write. Specifically, I will never comment on editorial policies at Cell Reports or at PLOS journals, nor will I discuss any paper at any PLOS journal that is not already published. See CrossTalk for past writing on scientific publishing and editorial work.