As regular readers know, my goal is to win a Nobel Prize. I don't care which one. I'm just in it for the money. Last night I came up with an idea that should get it done.

This idea targets The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. I don't have any relevant education in those fields, and I haven't done any research, so I know I need to come up with something big to get the judges past their bias for competence. My idea needs to cure a whole lot of problems. Anything less would be begging for the award committee to snub me once again.

My idea is this: A web site that collects extremely detailed lifestyle habits from volunteers all over the world, including the type of food they eat, how they exercise, exposure to sunlight, and lots of other things. These volunteers will also enter data on any health problems they encounter, from a sniffle to a broken hip. The data would be available to the general public, without association to the identities of the people, so amateur researchers can mine for patterns. For example, we might find that people who have a diet rich in a particular vitamin or mineral don't get cataracts, or tinnitus, or shin splints, or whatever.

This idea is cobbled together from several other ideas floating around in the ether. Most recently, I was wondering why my allergies inexplicably went away in the past year. The only thing I changed, as far as I know, is taking magnesium supplements, and there is some scientific evidence to believe that could help. But it might be something else, such as drinking more Diet Coke than usual. If the database I described already existed, doctors could check to see if people who take magnesium supplements, or drink lots of Diet Coke, have fewer allergies.

I read a book called The China Study that is a lot like this concept, but with less detail than I am proposing, and limited to China. The data from China showed that people who ate a plant-based diet hardly ever got the most common killer diseases such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. This past month you might have seen a number of media reports about other research that supports that same point. Wouldn't you like to know if most of the health benefit shown in The China Study came from particular plants? Personally, I don't want to eat any more kelp than I need to.

The other source of inspiration for my idea is the stories about amateur astronomers who have been given access to the vast unviewed archive of pictures of space, so they can help find any anomalies. You'd think that would be boring work that no one would volunteer to do, but apparently so many people are volunteering that the servers initially couldn't hold the load. I think that in a world of 6 billion people, it wouldn't be hard to find a few million who are willing to record their lives in great detail, knowing it would have so much benefit to humanity. And volunteers might end up finding solutions to their own health problems along the way.

The database would do more than discover what prevents health problems. It would also tell you what lifestyle elements promote good moods, or lead to high performance at work, in school, or in sports. It might tell you what elevates testosterone, what improves sex lives, and what keeps you looking younger. The potential is vast.

I'm hoping the idea is so good that someone will build the web site. If you decide to do it, I promise to thank you by name when I am in Stockholm accepting my award.

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Jul 17, 2008
One of the first commenters had it right. Even Thomas Edison said that Invention is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. You have to do the work to get the credit. I would think that your could easily afford such a site to be put together. Once up and running you could even ask for users support to help fund it, maybe make a profit.

Go get 'em.

BTW, my solution for the power crisis (on a larger scale) accept some script if asked.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 4, 2008
I admire and almost always agree with your way of thinking, its straightforward and almost always free of society stigma. That's why I enjoy reading your blog, when I don't blog-surf, and hardly bother to read any blogs at all, from the sheer amount of stupidity and idiocy rampant everywhere. You seem to be able to see the stark truth of things, when everyone else is so blind and like sheep. What's worse is they're being herded by wolves from where I come from.

But I disagree with this Nobel Prize idea of yours, simple because I feel nature knows what's best for us, whereas your idea will possibly turn everyone into organic-food zombies or some such. Can you imagine if they find "cancer-causing" substances in chocolates and candy? How many kids will be forever banned from having them by over-concerned parents?! What if they find people who live shorter lives from a regular intake of ice cream?! Do you really want to go through life never eating your favourite food or doing your favourite things? Would you give up your favourite stuff if they're proven to possibly shorten your life span, or has a seeming chance of giving you cancer? And I'm not talk about smokes and drugs, I'm talking about normal everyday stuff, like steaks, or desserts, wines or bananas, coffee!

Jul 4, 2008
"it wouldn't be hard to find a few million who are willing to record their lives in great detail"

Indeedy. Just look at all those blogs out there.....!
Jul 4, 2008
Hey Scott, about that allergy thing, my observation, FWIW, is that if you have allergies in the first part of your life (i.e., until age 40 more or less), they just disappear or lessen for the next part, and if you are allergy free when you are young, you then pick up allergies at about the age 40 more or less! No other pill, lifestyle change, effort is needed, sort of like it is programmed into our DNA????? Is that weird or what?
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Jul 3, 2008
I have often thought that medical researchers across the world must be duplicating a lot of effort, just because they don't know that someone else tried that yesterday. I think that would be another valuable part of the website/database.
Jul 2, 2008
Benjamin Franklin kept a detailed diary for that same purpose, the details including everything he ate, how he felt, what he did, and the nature and character of his bowel movements.

So, not a new idea, but you're in good company.

Here's a couple of ideas that could get you your Nobel Prize:

1. Put the word out that taking Vitamin D supplements about 5X the Recommended Daily Allowance will lower their likelihood of getting cancer by 30%. This is the conclusion of a group of medical researchers in England, who suggest that the right dose *should* be about 2,000IU/day. The FDA won't change the RDA anytime soon, because today they say you need 1/10th that amount, and if tomorrow they say different, then they have to admit that the US Government is capable of making mistakes. Bureaucrats hate embarrassing themselves worse than letting lots of people die of cancer needlessly.

2. Put the word out that colloidal silver (at 10ppm) is a safe and effective antibiotic/antiviral capable of killing the AIDS virus. (Reference: http://www.jnanobiotechnology.com/content/3/1/6 ) It may well also work against Ebola, but good luck getting the FDA to allow researchers to try it. If you google "colloidal silver", you'll find two categories of results - Testimonials from people who've tried it themselves and found that it worked amazingly quickly and well, and FDA scare-tactics intended to prevent people from trying it for themselves. (God Forbid that there's an effective treatment for incurable diseases that the FDA hasn't approved of, and won't, because it's too easy to make for them to regulate.)

Take your pick - Two ways to help thousands (maybe millions) of people who would otherwise be doomed to die miserably, and all you have to do is post it in your blog as a couple of daily topics.
Jul 2, 2008
I can imagine how news media would use that:

Editor: "We need need something quickly to fill up this page. You, search something from dilbertheatdb.com"
Journalist: "What kind of a heath story would you like sir?"
Editor: "Just dig up something controversial that involves sex and drugs, like 'Hookers who smoke a lot of pot have low risk of cancer'. Doesn't matter how flimsy connection you find."
Journalist: "Yes sir. One Marijuana and sleeping around may be good for you story coming up."
Jul 2, 2008
Brilliant idea, with one teeny tiny flaw. You're looking to win in the wrong category.

For example, let's look at what the last Nobel Peace Prize recipient did to receive his award. He made a movie based on his own PowerPoint lecture concerning an unproven theory of man-caused global warming.

Let's review: Nobel PEACE Prize given for pseudo-science. Hmmm.

OK, then, what you need to do, once your idea reaches fruition, is to get nominated for something other than medicine. I recommend economics, since peace is usually reserved for overweight, politically-correct ex-vice presidents who present bogus scientific theories. Not much hope there.

You also might try literature. Since you're a peaceful cartoonist, your medical web site could easily be considered to be in that category. If all else fails, you could try for an Ig Nobel prize - go here for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ig_Nobel_Prize. Better than nothing, I say.

Now, since you can't nominate yourself, I will volunteer to nominate you. I will only ask for 25% of the prize money as my fee. You can keep the medal, but I want a picture. My sacrifices on your behalf know no limit, as you can see.

Good luck.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2008
At the very least it might identify what social traits lead people to fill out questionaires. Probably helpful to correct sample biases in other research.
Jul 2, 2008
I like your idea, but not sure it's going to net you a Nobel prize. Because, if the person (or people?) who put together Wikipedia didn't get one yet, you might be further down the list if you go this route.

Can't you just buy a Nobel peace prize from some former winner who needs the cash money? You know, like some actors/actresses used to do with their Oscars when they were hard up or their heirs want to cash in? Then all you have to do is engrave your name over the real winner's and wear it around your neck at dinner parties or parent teacher conferences. Easy peasy.
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Jul 2, 2008
Having thought about it a bit more, there is quite a good understanding of what behavior is needed (diet, weight, smoking, exercise etc.) for people to live healthier lives. The Nobel Prize would be better awarded to somebody who could find a way to get people (including myself) to act on that understanding.
Jul 2, 2008
Ignoring all the issues of data structure and bias, if someone was actually dedicated and clever enough to mine this mess of data to come up with some significant conclusions and published them (again, ignoring the fact that the data is massively biased), then it would be that person, not you, who won the prize.
Jul 2, 2008
Now your site is crashing my browser (IE7) - but not every time - about once a day.
The whole thing hangs and nothing responds.
Clicking close says "This page is busy. Closing may cause problems." - but closing actually solves all my problems.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 2, 2008
I can see that a lot of the amusement value of your blogs and the comments is seeing people take your musings seriously but despite myself I'm going to get sucked in............

To add to RavenBlack's comments about data, how are you going to record the things that people are NOT doing?
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 1, 2008
You sound like Dogbert
Jul 1, 2008
Just convince the world there is global cooling once the conservatives come to power again, make a movie about it. Easy Nobel
Jul 1, 2008
You've missed an important detail.

Nobel prizes are not given out for having brilliant ideas, but for *forcing people to work* on brilliant ideas.
Jul 1, 2008
Jul 1, 2008
Pretty good idea Scott!
Jul 1, 2008
This idea was already done in a book called Chop Shop by Tim Downs. The list was compiled and then used to track down people with healthy body parts and kill them and sell their organs on the black market.

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