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Why Became

All about the 2014 change from to

Paul Ingraham • 5m read

From the early 2000s until the end of 2014, this website was called “” And I never really liked it.

It seemed like a good idea originally, but I outgrew it quickly. As soon I started selling some of my best content in 2007, I felt uneasy about the connotations of “save”: it smacked of a healing promise that no one can keep.

Plus it sounded like Jesus might be involved somehow. Jesus saves! Nothing against Jesus — well, nothing relevant here anyway — but He is just not what this website is about at all. is about pain and science … just like it now says on the tin.

Gravitas, baby: is more dignified is a much weightier domain name than was. In fact, it seems so important-ish that I even questioned whether it was ethical to claim it. Shouldn’t it belong to an institute or something? Or at least an actual pain scientist?

Naw. Finders keepers, losers weepers!1 It captures the soul of my content: this place is about the science of pain.

But I do have a great sense of responsibility to live up to the gravitas of the new name.

Oh, Canada!

Another reason I moved: sadly, the Canadian dot-ca was holding me back. Google assumes that domains tied to a nation are most relevant to citizens of that nation. More to the point, Google assumed was less relevant to everyone else — which means it was harder for my content to rank outside of Canada.

My Canadian-ness has been a feature of my brand, and I always liked wearing it on my sleeve with the dot ca. But not at the expense of being able to reach readers outside of Canada.

The timeline

2023 update: The name “” turns out to have its own issues!

Out of the name frying pan and into the fire. “” hasn’t been as solid a branding upgrade as I originally hoped. It’s strange but true: the meaning of the words “pain science” is actually controversial! It’s weird for me to see a title like this, for instance: “pain science is not a thing.” O rly?! Well, it is my website!

But Dr. Thompson is aware of that. What she’s writing about is the strange fact that “pain science” is controversial — the words themselves, that is. The meaning of that specific pairing of words has somehow become a subject of debate and concern, mainly because a certain type of healthcare professional insists on perceiving it as a method of treating people and/or a clique of believers in a particular way of doing this.

It’s really not. But some people have a hard time imagining healthcare without gurus and workshops, and they see everything through that lens. It must be PainScience™! When all you have is a hammer…

This much ado about nothing and doesn’t concern me much. But, as the owner of the “” domain, it’s noteworthy and rather surreal… and the trend has continued and strengthened. More than ever, I see "pain science" being referred to as if it’s a branded modality — and it’s just wrong. But people are in fact mistaking this website as the official website for that imaginary modality!

So for whatever it’s worth, once and for all: when I chose the domain name (circa 2014), I was thinking exclusively of “pain science” as meaning “pain being examined through multiple scientific lenses.” No other interpretation was even on my radar, and I am rather horrified and baffled by the other interpretations that have emerged since then.

What interests me about this is mostly that it’s so painfully obvious that the people systematically abusing the idea of “pain science” see their jobs through a thick lens of methods and techniques, of skills learned from gurus at weekend workshops, ways of “fixing” patients. They have a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea of an abstract perspective/process (AKA “science”) that informs clinical reasoning in a complex, unpredictable way, which can’t be packaged. It is really only the people most blinkered in this way that are systematically oversimplifying and misrepresenting what “pain science” refers to … like thinking astrology is the same as astronomy.

What’s new in this article?

Apr 19, 2023 — A rare update to this mostly archived page about itself, which I thought I’d never touch again: “2023 update: ‘PainScience’ turns out to have problems too!”

2014 — Publication.


  1. Lots of people have expressed their surprise that I was able to secure a domain name like It was a classic bargain, like finding a priceless antique at a garage sale with a masking-tape price tag of $20. The seller simply didn’t know what they had. Based on comparisons with similar domain names, I conservatively estimate that should have gone for at least $6000, if not much more. But I got it for — drum roll, please — just $600. Better still, the domain was unspoiled: that is, it never had crappy content on it that got penalized by Google, which can make a domain useless. And one more better: I was also able to secure the corresponding Twitter handle, @painsci (also @painscience, but shorter is better). In a way, that was even more shocking.