The Story of the Disconcerting Brain Scan or First Hand Schooling in Hume’s Problem of Induction

July 4, 2016


(Wipe that smug look off your face!)

On June 23rd, Holly and I went in for my quarterly MRI check-up. I laid perfectly still on the MRI table for the usual 20-minute scan before they added a contrast to my veins and scanned for another 10-minutes. When the scan was finished we went upstairs to my neuro-oncologist to get the results, assuming they would be the identical “all-clear” that we were used to over the past two years. It turned out to be a classic example of  my homie David Hume’s problem of induction, “That the sun will not rise tomorrow is no less intelligible a proposition…than the affirmation, that it will rise.” We just weren’t expecting anything this soon. Lesson learned, Mr. Hume. Lesson learned.

Turns out there was a tiny bit in my brain that was taking up contrast and lighting up. Holly knew something was up when they took us back almost an hour early. My doctor, Sarah Taylor, said they hadn’t got a report from the radiologist yet, but because it was white on the scan that she was concerned. She made an appointment with a neurosurgeon for the following Monday and said that she’d present it to the tumor board for discussion Monday morning.

“Boo! Hissss!”

No customary celebratory sushi for the Staytons.

We went in to the neurosurgeon, Dr Chamoun, on Monday and it was more of the same. No decision could be made without cracking my skull back open. But there were only three things it could be:

1.) Slight benign tumor growth. *M’eh not too bad…*
2.) Malignant tumor recurrence. *Worst possible scenario!*
3.) Radiation necrosis. (Dead cells only now appearing from my radiation treatment 2 years ago. Apparently this is not abbynormal.) *Best possible scenario??*
A consensus was reached between Holly, Dr. Chamoun, and myself that we should just watch it more closely. So, instead of an MRI every 3 months we’re going to go with every 6-8 weeks, now. The doc’s want to watch a.)if it continues to grow, b.) the rate of growth, and c.) if it does continue to grow they want to note if and when the growth tapers off. If it’s necrosis the growth may continue for 6-9 months before eventually tapering off as the body gets rid of the dead cells. If it’s a tumor it will continue to grow. “yea.”
Neither the doctors nor I think the surgical risks (infection, anesthesia problems, clots, stroke, seizures, etc.) nor the spot’s size or location (it’s apparently close to the speech area so they would have to keep me awake to ensure they don’t cut out anything important) are worth slicing me back open just yet. Especially if it turns out to just be necrosis.
It’s weird, at 37 years old, when you get told your best option is just dead brain cells. Who ever thought, right? I’ll keep you all updated, me droogies!


Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1772). Hackett Publ Co. 1993; Chapter on Cause and Effect.


Nobody tells me nothin’…

June 6, 2016
Apparently it’s National Cancer Survivors Day. Nobody tells me nothin’.
Well, in honor of this day, team Nogginators have assembled to participate in the MetroKC Head for the Cure 5K event on August 28th to raise funds expanding medical research for brain cancer treatments! With over 120 different types of brain tumors, and that pesky blood-brain barrier, effective treatments are extremely difficult to find. So, we need all the help we can get!
Come participate in the 5k, by joining the Nogginators! Or help provide support for the 700,000 brain cancer survivors, such as myself, by donating to the Nogginators! To do so click on the Head for the Cure banner at the top of this page. There will be a welcome site with (2) buttons near the bottom of the page that allow you to participate, “Join Team” and “Donate“. Please give us a hand by donating at whatever level you’re comfortable with.
The Nogginators thank you for all your support!
More updates and information coming soon…

May 28, 2016

I know, I know… It’s been a while. I’ve been neglecting my loyal droogies. But so far I’m still in the clear!

Here I am getting my second sexxy ankle band tattoo to commemorate two years survival post-tumor diagnosis. A new band for every year. Here’s to a multi-colored goofy looking leg!

Sexxxy Band




The 10 Commandments of Logic!

July 21, 2015

10 Commandments Caress

Logic is the tool of philosophy. Developed by philosophers over thousands of years to ensure clear reasoning on difficult concepts like we are currently just starting to explore. So, to keep our thoughts on track, thou shalt read:

The 10 Commandments of Logic!

  • Thou shalt not attack the person’s character, but the argument. (Ad Hominin fallacy)
  • Thou shalt not misrepresent or exaggerate a person’s argument in order to make them easier to attack. (Straw Man fallacy)
  • Thou shalt not use small numbers to represent the whole. (Hasty Generalization fallacy)
  • Thou shalt not argue thy position by assuming one of its premises is true. (Begging the Question fallacy)
  • Thou shalt not claim that because something occurred before that it must be the cause. (Post Hoc/False Cause fallacy)
  • Thou shalt not reduce the argument down to two possibilities. (False Dichotomy fallacy)
  • Thou shalt not argue that because of our ignorance the claim must be true or false. (Ad Ignoratum fallacy)
  • Thou shalt not lay the burden of proof onto the person who is questioning the claim. (Burden of Proof Reversal fallacy)
  • Thou shalt not assume that “this” follows from “that” when there is no logical connection. (Non Sequitur fallacy)
  • Thou shalt not claim that because a premise is popular that it must be true. (Bandwagon fallacy)

Note: Try to find these in the news and TV. People love getting worked up to a fever with the Post Hoc, Bandwagon and Appeal to Authority (because Charlton Heston said so) fallacies. Religious arguments (and Rene Descartes) tend to revolve around Begging the Question and Appeal to Faith (self-explanatory). And politicians are particularly guilty of, well, pretty much all of these!


And they’re … lit

July 13, 2015

Aristotle stumbles on the stairs! Protagoras almost got to the steps! And Zeno seems to be trying to validate his own paradox of movement! What a race! 


I feel ya, gē ge. I feel ya.

July 4, 2015

Bruce Lee


What the Hell Does Plato Know? (Space II) or Space! Part Deux, Second Round, Slightly Edited

June 26, 2015

In Timeus** (approx. lines 50-53), Plato, writing in the voice of Socrates (or So-crates, for all my Bill & Ted buddies out there) turns his questions toward the nature of space. Plato believes that, so long as you have a conceptual starting point, you can discover new information about anything. His foundation comes at [50b-c] where Plato defines all that exists as:

(i) that which comes to be,

(ii) that in which it comes to be, and

(iii) that after which the thing coming to be is modeled, and which is its source.

The first one (i), “that which comes to be,” is matter. This is the stuff we and our senses interact with everyday. Things like the chair I’m sitting on and these pretzels I’m eating – and boy are they making me thirsty. The second (ii), “that in which it comes to be,” is space. It’s everything between that matter we are so familiar with. As Plato says, “Everything that exists must of necessity be somewhere, in some place and occupying some space” [52b]. The third (iii) is the infamous realm of Platonic forms. Forms are Plato’s conceptual ideal of all that is. A perfect equilateral pyramid may never be built by clumsy human hands, but we have the ideal concept of what it what it would look like. We can conceive of it through pure thought. Forms are a whole other blog series (or book).

Plato is fully aware of the complexity surrounding a definition of space. He sees it as something we look at as in a dream. He starts by developing three questions to guide his way. The first is, “what is space?” Is it material as in a container that holds all things or is it some kind of strange immaterial structure? Plato speaks of space as acquiring properties similar to matter. It is available for elements to make their impression upon while never taking on any characteristic of the objects which enter it. Like stamped clay, it can carry copies of objects without absorbing their traits. For Plato space seems to actually be material – “pure matter.” But, still far from being certain, he calls it “a thing extremely difficult to comprehend” [51b].

Plato’s second question is how can we come to find out anything about this invisible, elusive, yet all pervading thing? If space is something that cannot be learned about via pure reason (as the forms can) or empirical evidence (physical object), but can only be apprehended by a sort of intuitive “bastard reasoning” [52b], how can we hope to find anything out about it? How can we test our theories about it?

Plato’s last question involves the interaction of space and material objects. He wants to know how matter and space (also matter for Plato) interact with one another. It is obvious that objects lie in space, but what else does the relationship entail? Plato reasons that space and the elements all react with one another and affect each other.

You can see that even though he lived two and a half thousand years ago, Plato managed to set the stage for modern physics. He did so by dividing the concept of space into the three elemental questions above: the metaphysical which asks what kind of a thing is space; the epistemological, how can we come to know anything about space; and the physical, how do space and matter interact? All three of these must be explored to discover anything about the relation of place, motion, inertia, and the correlation between space and matter. Natural philosophers! Crack your knuckles and fire up your neural transmitters! I think we just boarded the Wonka boat. It’s gonna be a weird ride!

**The translation is from Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy (pp. 463-466), Plato, “Timaeus,” translated by M.L. Gill and P. Ryan and published by Hackett in 1995.

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