1. What is your blog about?
Basically the philosophical implications of science, although that extends into the distance a bit when I get angry about antiscience or political moves that either interfere with science or rely on bad science.
2. What will you never write about?
There’s not much I won’t write about. I’m a philosopher, so a mere lack of knowledge hardly fazes me. I can express complex views on any topic even if, or rather especially when, I don’t know the first thing about it. This, of course, doesn’t mean I will express useful or sensible views. That is too much to ask. I probably won’t ever talk much about race again. The context and sensitivities in Australia, where I live, are very different from those in America and Europe, and I make too much of a fool of myself even for me on those matters.
3. Have you ever considered leaving science?
One cannot leave what one never entered. I came to this via the following route: theology?philosophy?epistemology?philosophy of science?evolutionary philosophy of science?evolution?philosophy of biology?philosophy of taxonomy, etc. Along the way intelligent and educated people have tried with varying degrees of success to educate and correct me. Some scientists have taken what I try to do seriously, while others have had a patronising smile most of the time, entirely appropriately.
For reasons that passeth all understanding, PZ Myers recommended me for Science Blogs, and for some reason this is the 24th best/most popular/linked to science blog out there according to Wikio, which is just wrong, but so long as they all continue to think that of me, I can’t argue. So I will continue to pretend that I am a scientist, and instead corrupt youthful minds, which is the mission statement of philosophy.
4. What would you do instead?
Write very bad science fiction. I started reading science fiction at the age of seven or so, when I found my father’s discarded Amazing Stories and Astounding copies. A well meaning friend of his lent me Brave New World, which was the first novel I ever read. Then he lent me 1984, and then First and Last Men. It was all downhill from there. Basically I do philosophy because I can’t write dialogue. There’s something vaguely ironic about that, but it doesn’t come to mind right now…
5. What do you think will science blogging be like in 5 years?
More widely informed and diverse. There’s a telling lack of bloggers in some fields, like ecology (not conservation biology, the theory side of things), developmental biology (PZ notwithstanding), and so on. I hope that as the academic world becomes more accepting of blogging as a form of public service and education, more interesting bloggers will arise.
6. What is the most extraordinary thing that happened to you because of blogging?
I met many of my readers when travelling to the US and UK. It seems I have contacts in most parts of the developed world, who I can mooch off when I travel (hi, Robin, Matt, Larry). But that pales in comparison with my email correspondence with Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett back when the world internet was young. I still regret that DNA didn’t take my advice to do an evolutionary epic of a family across millions of years.
7. Did you write a blog post or comment you later regretted?
Oh yes. See question 2.
8. When did you first learn about science blogging?
I honestly can’t recall. I’ve been on the Interwub since around 1982 or so, sort of by accident (I typed “rn” on a unix account one day by mistake). I discovered that email allowed me to talk directly to famous philosophers, and lacking any sense of proportion or propriety I did so. David Hull, for example, turned out to be a great help, an inspiration, a mentor, and a friend. So at some point in my travels I must have heard of blogging per se, and I would immediately have thought “hey, that sounds like a great way to make even more intemperate public comment”. But I only did it after Myers Meyers Mxsptlk Pharyngula got going and one day I tried it, and he found it, somehow, and outed me.
9. What do your colleagues at work say about your blogging?
They are generally supportive. My recent and soon to be again supervisor – Paul Griffiths – has been very encouraging, and made me put it in the most recent grant application (the one that was successful, yay). I have yet to meet a philosopher who thought it was a waste of time. Apart from me, that is.
10. Some bloggers are also asking for a poem about their blogging
Hmm. I am aesthetically colour blind, so this is a dangerous thing to ask, but I seem to do haiku OK:
Science is the way to earn
Book buying money