"Light PhD degree" to allow for respected publishing

Should we build a pathway for an accredited light PhD degree to allow for publishing peer reviewed papers that the global scientific community at large would fully support? This would allow for a much more rapid scientific conversation on topics relevant to improving everyone’s health through self observation / self quantification / etc.

It is “light” because it would not involve the use of expensive lab equipment, and all the hurdles (time/money) people go through to be educated/qualified to safely use that equipment. That would be a fundamental difference between the light scientific PhD and a normal scientific PhD. Edit: However, the type of equipment used to determine the molecular / nutritional content of foods could definitely be part of this light Phd degree because every molecule matters when trying to determine the result of bio-molecular experiments (our lives), so increasing the number of people collecting that data is important. Cost reducing this equipment is also an effort worth pursuing.

This degree would be inexpensive, so anybody could do it, and it would involve, perhaps, about one or two years (depending on how aggressively you want to pursue it) of robust online coursework as well as achieving appropriate performance and defending a research dissertation. These degrees wouldn’t just be handed out… most people (or perhaps even anybody) can try, but not everyone would succeed.

The PhD system itself bottlenecks the scientific conversation and limits opportunity. I, myself, did happen to have the opportunity to pursue a PhD and started it, but due to a variety of factors I ended up working in another town so couldn’t proceed with the opportunity at that University. I did finish a masters before that, however.

I like this idea. For exactly the stated reason: It would help more people do science. More people would contribute to science. More would be learned.

Towards the effort of building this online PhD opportunity, here is some coursework that would likely be required. If a person already has accredited study in any of the specific classes below, they could skip that one, of course:

Fundamentals of chemistry and physics
Anatomy and physiology
Organic and Biochemistry
Biochemistry and physics; their interactions (like high magnetic environments, gravity, electromagnetic fields, electromagnetic waves, directed energies, nuclear energies, electricity, atomic vibrations, etc)
Nutrition / Body chemistry
Agriculture and our health
Physical fitness (and longevity?)
Pathogens / Epidemiology (Maybe…)
Cancer (given its significance to our health and longevity might be good)
Preventing Health problems
Quantifiable factors for human health and longevity (all factors would be listed here)
Recording accurate observations
Graphing and correlating observations
How to properly publish papers and do a proper dissertation

I’ve had a new thought on the task to build this PhD opportunity:

The coursework could be freely available online and built up by people that want to join the effort. Some of the basic coursework is probably already reliably available somewhere on the internet, so it could be linked.

To start, we could police ourselves to the high standards of a Phd, and, in time, we could gain accredited status by petitioning organizations around the world to recognize this type of PhD study.

Getting an ordinary PhD is mainly about learning how to do research. Taking classes plays a small role. To get a PhD you are supposed to show you know how to do research. Your dissertation is supposed to be original research.

Indeed, depending on the PhD a person is pursuing it can lean more towards research or a little more towards some classwork. The one I was doing was about a 50/50 split between research and classwork on the credit requirements after the masters level (the masters was all coursework in my case).

The idea of the coursework I gave above is to provide a full pathway to achieving a self-quantification PhD for anybody. I think anybody can do the science of accurately observing their own lives if they have the right guidance.

If a person already has some of the fundamental courses, they would focus more on research, of course, and this means they would meet the qualifying factors of this type of PhD opportunity more quickly.

I think I just realized something else: Instead of calling this a “light PhD degree” it seems like it should be called a self-quantification PhD degree, and the idea is to make it accessible to anybody because we are ourselves (obviously), so we should certainly be able to accurately observe our own lives. Putting a PhD level of accuracy, scrutiny, research, and respect to that effort seems like the right path.

I wanted to follow up and state that the original idea of the “light PhD” has morphed into a “quantified self PhD,” however, I think that both of those ideas can be discussed.

Anyway, light, heavy… what matters the most is creating the opportunity by whatever avenue available. We can either petition existing organizations to do this and wait for them to act, or we can get this easily accessible PhD opportunity going ourselves – kind of like the spirit of quantified self itself. It doesn’t exist anywhere else, as far as I know. The closest thing to it might be the online Public Health PhD, but that one seems expensive (any info on cost?), and, while there are similarities, it does lack some of the key coursework as well as lacking the general spirit of what this type of PhD is all about.

Anyway, all it takes is a project manager(s) and people willing to help the effort. I’m happy to volunteer if anybody expresses interest in helping this to happen. Tasks include:

  1. Put all the coursework online, by linking to existing accredited universities where possible, but for at least some of the classes listed below they are unique so need some additional information (I put UNIQUE next to those below). Even if we already have accredited coursework on the foundation material, it would be a great place for review. A lot of sub-tasks exist here, of course; What belongs in each class? Should we consolidate some of the classes into the same class? Should an additional class topic be listed? etc.
  2. Discuss what constitutes a great dissertation for this type of PhD. This would be a really fun place to discuss and scrutinize exactly what constitutes a great original research project for this type of PhD study. Maybe the idea of the “light PhD” is focusing entirely on this section, and the class work is something that people just do themselves in a supplemental way – whatever they truly need for their research project.
  3. Start doing it, and organize the effort to petition educational institutions, governments, and accreditation organizations to recognize this type of PhD study! If we already have a vast database of classes and original research projects, it can’t be ignored. It’s easy to envision startup companies hosting this online Phd, and people would apply to the opportunity. It’s important that it be inexpensive and easily accessible, but with the reasonable, rigid standards expected of PhD study. We should all have the fundamental opportunity to pursue this type of respected research given the sheer magnitude of its potential contribution to the human condition, and the more people that decide to do it, the more knowledge will be gained.

Class list:

Basic math / statistics that would be used for this PhD
Fundamentals of chemistry and physics
Anatomy and physiology
Organic and Biochemistry
The endocrine system and our thoughts (associations between our thoughts and the endocrine system, for example) UNIQUE
Biochemistry and physics; their interactions (like high magnetic environments, gravity, electromagnetic fields, electromagnetic waves, directed energies, nuclear energies, electricity, atomic vibrations, etc) UNIQUE
Recording accurate observations UNIQUE
Graphing and correlating observations UNIQUE
How to properly publish papers and do a proper dissertation
Quantifiable factors for human health and longevity UNIQUE
Nutrition / Body chemistry
Agriculture and our health UNIQUE - maybe
Physical fitness and longevity
Pathogens / Epidemiology
Preventing Health problems UNIQUE - maybe

This sounds pretty cool to me. I’m learning a lot of those things (rather haphazardly) at the moment right now. Some more structure would probly be good.

As a start to this, we could try to ID books, online courses and lectures, to at least assemble in one place so that self-study is more efficient. Dividing this task up would be excellent. For example, I have a PhD in Stats, and a masters in physics, and have taken Chem, organic chem, and microbiology, so I think I could at least help to collect material on those topics.

Anyone want to volunteer to organize the other topics or the website/wiki to locate the project?

Yeah, it’s definitely cool and very doable… this thread was briefly published somewhere (that’s why it shot up from 100 to to about 4500 hits during the week of Christmas). I haven’t figured out where.

I’m definitely on board with this project as is my sister, and I could probably rally a few others to the task. Anything you do, just publish it here for now; perhaps we can make a real project out of this after a few more people chime in and show genuine interest to change the world for the better.

There’s so much more potential in life than what’s been going on. I’m all about taking a step back and redesigning society with a basis in the pursuit of health and longevity.


Yeah, altho society can’t really be redesigned by a few visionaries. It must be more “convinced.” I see it like this:

When you do that, then the world will spontaneously redesign.