loading page

Science AMA Series: I’m Chris Cogswell, a PhD and host of the Mad Scientist Podcast. I am trying to promote science by talking about the history and philosophy of science and how it fits with modern/historical pseudoscientific beliefs. AMA!
  • Chris_Cogswell ,
  • r/Science AMAs

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
r/Science AMAs
Author Profile


I’m Chris Cogswell, a PhD in Chemical Engineering and host of “The Mad Scientist Podcast”, a show that discusses scientific concepts by teaching the history and philosophy of pseudoscience! I’m here to answer any questions you have about scientific outreach to the public through non-conventional means, my research background (both scientific and non-scientific), and any skeptical or weird science questions you may not normally get to ask. I received a Bachelors of Science in Chemical Engineering and Philosophy from the University of New Hampshire in the spring of 2012, where in Chemical Engineering I did research on electrochemical plating methods for computer chip design. In the realm of philosophy I did a lot of research on the conversion from science to pseudoscience, and why the public accepts some technologies while others lag behind due to political, economic, and sociological barriers. In the fall of 2012 I joined Northeastern University for my PhD studies under Dr. Sunho Choi, where I performed research on the creation of nanomaterials for a variety of applications in the realm of green chemistry and sustainability. The materials I worked on include Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs), a class of self-assembling porous structures with extremely high surface areas and chemical activity, and lamellar (layered) silicates such as zeolites and clays. I like to tell people that MOFs are like K’nex, while the lamellar structures are like Lego. While in my PhD I realized that what was really important to me was scientific outreach to the public. I had members of my own family and friends who believed all number of wacky theories, and would argue with me constantly about them. I had also spent a lot of time with undergraduate students as a TA and then as a lab manager for our research group, as well as middle school and high school students through lab tours and outreach events. Through these teaching experiences I saw that students loved to learn about these myths and legends, and how they fit into the larger narrative of scientific history. Probably what put the final piece of the puzzle together for me was working with Dr. Lucas Landherr, aka Dante Shepard of the webcomic Surviving the World! His research group is attempting to find interesting new ways to teach STEM through art or the use of non-conventional tools. We wrote a comic together on the use of assumptions in Engineering, which has been really well received in the engineering education community, and this caused me to attempt to start up something of my own. In the final year of my PhD I started The Mad Scientist Podcast, and have been teaching science through the history of pseudoscience ever since. I’m really excited to answer any questions you have on the way technologies change over time, pseudoscientific topics, engineering, nanomaterials, doing something unconventional with your science training, and podcasting as a means of education! As long as I keep getting questions I will keep answering them, so feel free to ask whatever. You can find my show here: https://audioboom.com/channel/themadscientistpodcast Or on our website! https://www.themadscientistpodcast.com/ You can find our webcomic and the work of Dr. Landherr here: https://www.northeastern.edu/landherr/stem-comics/science-comic-assumptions/ And we are part of two podcast networks, the Dark Myths collective and Blank for non-Blank (an educational network). EDIT: Well, looks like things are wrapping up! Thanks to everyone who took the time to ask a question and read my responses. I’m on Reddit all the time on my regular account, so I’ll be sure to pop in and continue answering questions as you have them! Thanks to the Mods for setting this up! -Chris