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Ian Eslick on Self-Tracking, Self-Experimentation, and Self-Science

“Personal experimentation is simply tracking, on a schedule.”

Ian Eslick is a scientist, researcher, and self-tracker. His unique history has led him down a path towards understanding what it means to understand yourself and your health in and outside the world of healthcare. Ian’s health history helped push him down this path. Since being diagnosed with psoriasis he’s been confronted with the difficult task of figuring out triggers, effects, and treatments as his symptoms changed over time. Ian, began to explore self-tracking by mentally noting what was going on in his life and his symptom severity. You would think that this “in my own head” tracking methodology would limit analytical capabilities, but it helped Ian create mental models that informed more consistent and rigorous tracking methods, as well as influenced his future research.

In this talk below Ian describes that research, both personal and community-based, that explored the concept of helping people learn how to create and engage with personal experimentation.

“What I came to in conclusion after all of this is that N of 1 is overkill for QS. It’s unnecessary level of rigor. Ninety-five percent confidence intervals are about scientific causal proof, but what I want to know is am I making a better decision. Is data improving my decision in some measurable way? Not is it a perfect decision or do I have proof. So we want to value personal significance over statistical significance. Statistical significance says that if I run this trial twenty more times I’m likely to get the same result, but what I want to know is should I keep doing this and in QS we’re never going to stop keep experimenting, in a way, because our life keeps going.”

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