Orac was born in Detroit. He went to school there and then to the University of Michigan where he obtained his MD in 1988. He went on to do his his surgical training at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and obtained a PhD in Cellular Physiology. After a surgical oncology research fellowship at the University of Chicago, he joined the faculty at the medical institute where he presently works. Orac blogs at Respectful Insolence.
Why do you blog? > Because I've always liked writing. I used to be involved heavily in online discussions on Usenet about Holocaust denial. Then, two years ago, I discovered blogging and found it to be far more satisfying because I controlled what I wrote about.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Being invited to join ScienceBlogs. It showed in my mind that I had arrived as a blogger and that I had achieved a certain status.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Two years ago, a guy named William P. O'Neill of the Canadian Cancer Research Center, unhappy about a post that I had done praising Peter Bowditch, an Australian who battles quackery and for whom O'Neill has a particular hatred, figured out who I really was and emailed vacuous legal threats to my Department Chair, Division Chief, and Cancer Center director (basically, all three of my bosses). That is how they found out about my blog. Fortunately, they didn't have a problem with it. The story is documented here.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > A couple of things. Above all, be yourself and write about what you want to write about. Second, find a niche that you can cover better than almost anyone else and write about topics in that niche. Political bloggers are a dime a dozen. Actually they're a dime a gross. Very few are worth even a bucket of warm piss. If you want to do politics because it's your passion, go for it. But don't do it if you don't have something unique to say. Stick with your strengths.
What are you reading at the moment? > Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine by Richard P. Sloan.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.
What is your favourite poem? > 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost.
What is your favourite movie? > The Godfather.
What is your favourite song? > Almost anything by David Bowie except from his album Tonight.
Who is your favourite composer? > Wagner. (I know, I know, it's rather funny for someone so vocal against Holocaust denial to say that.)
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Capital punishment. I used to be very supportive of it, but have since changed my mind.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Holocaust denial.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Elimination of the Electoral College and direct election of the President.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be President, who would you choose? > New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He's done a fantastic job in NYC.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Radical Islamic fundamentalism of the kind espoused by al-Qaida.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > Of course. In fact, I already am.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Arrogance, particularly when it's unjustified.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > To protect someone from persecution, as in the way that some Germans lied to protect Jews from being rounded up.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Surfing the Internet.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Getting old.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I'm not sure I would have become a surgeon; I might have stuck with basic research.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Chicago. If I could find a decent job there, I'd be off in a flash.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Blogging.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Joseph.
What talent would you most like to have? > Play electric guitar. I've always fantasized about being a guitar hero.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Blogger. If I could make a living at it comparable to what I make now, I'd be seriously tempted.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > John Cleese.
Which baseball team do you support? > The Detroit Tigers.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > Little or nothing, other than a nicer car.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Charles Darwin, William Halstead, David Bowie.
What animal would you most like to be? > Dog.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]