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This Is a Goodbye Post

Some bittersweet news: This is the last installment of Only Human. After two stimulating and fun years blogging at Phenomena, I’m starting a new job: building an investigative science desk for BuzzFeed News.

When I launched this blog I intended to write, as I put it in my first post, “stories about people — what we’re made of, what we do, why we do it.”

The human beat proved to be a bit too broad. This week, after looking back at all of my posts, I realized that Only Human has focused on a handful of subtopics: criminal justice, memory, obesity, dogs, kids, and the business of science. Below I’ve listed links to representative posts from each.

The best part about writing for Phenomena has been sharing this little corner of the big, bad internet with my smart, enthusiastic and frequently hilarious co-bloggers (and friends), Nadia Drake, Brian Switek, Ed Yong and Carl Zimmer. And our blogging overlord, Jamie Shreeve, couldn’t have been kinder or more supportive. Truly.

And readers! You, too, have been wonderful — curious, encouraging, inspiring, provocative, and (almost always) constructive.  The comment thread on my post about losing my dog (which, after more than a year, is still going strong!) has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my writing career.

I look forward to seeing how Phenomena continues to thrive and evolve, and I hope you’ll check out BuzzFeed’s emerging science coverage. Though I won’t be on these pages anymore, you can always find me on Twitter or by email. Happy New Year to all — and here’s to new beginnings.



Criminal Justice

Making Juries Better: Some Ideas from Neuroeconomics

How Many People Are Wrongly Convicted?

My DNA Made Me Do It?

Why Jurors and Policemen Need Stress Relief

Emotion Is Not the Enemy of Reason

The Other Polygraph


Shocking Memories Away

Brain Zaps Boost Memory

The Chatty Hippocampus

Drug Tweaks Epigenome To Erase Fear Memories

After Death, H.M.’s Brain Uploaded To the Cloud

And the Memory Wars Wage On


The Obesity Apologists

The Humble Heroes of Weight-Loss Surgery

Expanding Guts in Pythons and People

Why Do Obese Women Earn Less Than Thin Women (and Obese Men)?


On Losing a Dog

People and Their Pets

How Voices Tickle the Dog Brain

The Dog Mom’s Brain

People and Dogs: A Genetic Love Story


When Do Kids Understand Death?

When Do Kids Understand Numbers?

Math for Babies

When Do Kids Understand Infinity?

On Learning Animal-ness

How We Learn To See Faces

The Business of Science (and Science Journalism)

So Science Gets It Wrong. Then what?

So Science…Might Have Gotten It Wrong. Now What?

The Science of Big Science

Resveratrol Redux, Or: Should I Just Stop Writing About Health?

The Power of a Press Release

14 thoughts on “This Is a Goodbye Post

  1. I will miss your presence here. You provided the larger social dimension into which the projects of science often extend, but which its practitioners and those who write about them usually seem to have trouble recognizing, much less understanding. I suppose shiny whizbangs are preferred by both sets and the general public. I have the same problem buying presents for my grandchildren: they’ve become used to hopping, talking, blinking junk.

  2. Thank you Virginia for all the beautiful columns. I, as others, am surely going to miss you on Phenomena. I will definitely be following your writings at other places though. Wish you all the best and a Happy New Year!

  3. Sad news, Virginia! I always enjoy reading your blog posts and articles elsewhere on the web – love your style… both of enquiry and writing. Thanks for the brain food and inspiration, and best of luck in your new job!

  4. I only recently (after moving to the States last year) came across one of your articles and instantly took a liking to all of your writing. I will miss your column in Phenomena. Your newsletter is something I look forward to every Friday, but I learnt that this too will turn out to be less frequent starting next year 🙁 Nevertheless, here’s wishing great success at your new job and happy new year! I hope to continue reading your stories elsewhere!

  5. One of the good things about the web is how easy it makes it to follow a fine writer to a new place, whether it’s an online magazine or a personal site. None of the hassle of trying to find the new publication somewhere, or writing off for a subscription and waiting for them to get around to starting to send it. Just click over.

    So, Buzzfeed it is. Vale atque ave!

  6. Really Buzzfeed the creators of Native Advertising or the Advertorial hurrah just what we need more of. Most unfortunate. You know I was always worried about the sponsorship of Nationgeographic – at least they have a box up in the right hand side who paid for the particular article. With NPR getting gobs of money from Koch brothers and they suddenly losing their climate change reporters makes one wonder. Oh well you got to do what you got to do.

  7. The title of this post gave me a shock. I thought you’d stop writing altogether! 🙁

    Anyway, you have been such an inspiration and a wonderful model for me. I wish you all the best for the future! 😉

  8. I can’t believe it’s only been two years! I don’t know when I discovered Only Human, but it must have been near its inception. I’ve loved your writing and I hope to see more of it in Buzzfeed!

    Good luck and best wishes,
    A Loyal Reader

  9. Like the others, I find seeing that you are wrapping this up is a little sad.

    You say you are going to be starting an investigative science desk. This sounds like you are going to sneak up on us scientists. I’m retired now, but I’ll warn you from long experience that lab rats like us have very sensitive radar for pretty young ladies who know a lot about science and like it. You’ll never succeed in sneaking up on us. 🙂

    But seriously, best of luck in your new endeavors.

  10. I’ve enjoyed, and been touched by your articles. And though I’ll miss you here, I wish you the best on your new job.

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