Pharyngula

I blush to mention it

Declan Butler has a short article in this week’s Nature on the “Top 5 Science Blogs”. This was determined by identifying blogs written by scientists and determining their rank on Technorati. The top five are:

  1. Pharyngula, at #179
  2. The Panda’s Thumb, at #1647
  3. RealClimate, at #1884
  4. Cosmic Variance, at #2174
  5. The Scientific Activist, at #3429

Declan asked each of us to say a little bit about why we were succeeding in this medium, and that’s given in a short summary. It’s seriously edited down, though—I have no complaints at all about what he wrote, but he didn’t use one part I wrote to him. I can’t blame him, since it undercuts the premise of the article, but I wanted to mention it here, at least.

Hmmm, reasons for my “success”…well, first of all, I have to say that I don’t measure success in terms of Technorati rank or traffic. There are great science blogs out there (check out the list at scienceblogs.com) that are more focused than mine and certainly do a better job of more sharply elucidating the niche they occupy. I’d say I have wider popularity because I do tend to wander off into many different topics, so there is a more diffuse field of potential interest, tapping into the broader areas of liberal politics and atheism. I think, also, I’ve tapped into a fair amount of resentment against the reactionary religious nature of American culture—to some, I suspect I’m one representative of opposition to the excesses of our dominant political regime. This country is strongly polarized, and my position makes it easy for many to identify with me…and those who disagree find it easy to characterize me.


Nature has made available a list of the top 50 science blogs, which will make for a useful start for anyone trying to fill up a blogroll. As Sciencebase notes, though, it does have some omissions.


Coturnix turns up a publicly accessible copy of the article.


Butler D (2006) Top five science blogs. Nature 442(7098):9.

Comments

  1. #1 Alexander Vargas
    July 5, 2006

    Congratulations! I also commend you on your sincerety and for posting that bit here. I agree that the excesses in this country justify a lot of anger, PZ. I sure can understand you, even if I do not agree…

  2. #2 Claire
    July 5, 2006

    Congrats! This blog defintely deserves it. Do you have a link to the Nature article, or is it only for subscibers?

  3. #3 PZ Myers
    July 5, 2006

    I’m afraid it’s subscriber only. It’s rather short, actually, about a paragraph for each blog with a short mention of the methodology.

  4. #4 MYOB
    July 5, 2006

    Is there a chance they edited it to remove your inflamatory religious and political views? The last thing this magazine probably wants is to have the republicans finding out they linked to the likes of you and then found their loans called, their billing rates hiked, and anything they usually do challenged by fundies who make a living now working for the government by finding and attacking anyone who dares to stand up to them.

    MYOB’
    .

  5. #5 Steve LaBonne
    July 5, 2006

    I’m not sure why a Brit journal would be worried about that.

  6. #6 PZ Myers
    July 5, 2006

    Nah, here’s the full paragraph describing Pharyngula:

    Paul Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, puts his top rank down to “tapping into the broader areas of liberal politics and atheism” and a rich vein of “resentment against the reactionary religious nature of American culture”. Scientists can easily translate their expertise into blog posts, adds Myers. “Sometimes, I just summarize some basic concepts as I would in the classroom.” But you are certain to fail if you write as if for a peer-reviewed journal. “It doesn’t work on the web,” says Myers. “A blog’s more like the conversation you’d have at the bar after a scientific meeting.”

    He put my sacrilegious liberality right at the top, so I don’t think he was worried at all.

  7. #7 Magnus Malmborn
    July 5, 2006

    You forgot invertebrate sex in your reasons…

  8. #8 Betty Cocker
    July 5, 2006

    Congratulations, shame this is not linked to a salary hike…
    As a matter of interest how does your department view your blog?

  9. #9 Carlie
    July 5, 2006

    Heh. And now everyone who comes and takes a look today after reading about it in Nature, looking for scientific enlightenment, will find… a bunch of people talking about atheist fraternity keg parties.

  10. #10 coturnix
    July 5, 2006

    It is available for non-subscribers here. Check the links on the bottom for methodology, additional blogs, etc.

  11. #11 Castaa
    July 5, 2006

    First of all, Congrats.

    Is this blog #1 because of the science or because it taps into the anger towards the insulting nature of strong religious beliefs?

    So is it proper to consider this a popular philosophy blog instead?

  12. #12 The Bad Astronomer
    July 5, 2006

    Well, congrats PZ! That’s cool.

    I checked Technorati, and right now Scientific Activist (who helped out George Deutsch at NASA) is listed as 43,918 at Technorati, not 3500. I wonder why that’s so divergent from what was published? The other blogs are still close to the numbers listed. My own blog (ahem!) is at 2551. So I don’t blush at all in mentioning it. :-)

  13. #13 The Bad Astronomer
    July 5, 2006

    Ah! They list me as a writer, not a scientist. Hmmmm, I’m not sure how I feel about that.

  14. #14 False Prophet
    July 5, 2006

    I was wondering why Bad Astronomy didn’t make the list–it’s the first science blog I ever discovered (and, I’m guessing, one of the older ones).

    Congrats to the good Doc Myers. On behalf of us godless heathens (even those of us in the liberal arts), keep up the good work!

  15. #15 quork
    July 5, 2006

    Heh. And now everyone who comes and takes a look today after reading about it in Nature, looking for scientific enlightenment, will find… a bunch of people talking about atheist fraternity keg parties.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  16. #16 Jason
    July 5, 2006

    “Sometimes, I just summarize some basic concepts as I would in the classroom.” But you are certain to fail if you write as if for a peer-reviewed journal. “It doesn’t work on the web,” says Myers. “A blog’s more like the conversation you’d have at the bar after a scientific meeting.”

    Add to that unhinged bigotry and you’ve got the formula for success! Huzzah!

  17. #17 ulg
    July 5, 2006

    The truth is that nearly all of us are here for the tentacle porn.

    (Yeah, I know, Magnus already tried to say this subtly, but I believe in being blunt. )

  18. #18 HP
    July 5, 2006

    Is this blog #1 because of the science or because it taps into the anger towards the insulting nature of strong religious beliefs?

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I first encountered Pharyngula because of links to political/atheism-themed posts from some politics blogs I follow. Then I went to see the main page, and found all these really cool biology and evolution posts, that were written for the intelligent layperson, without condescension. And that made me a daily reader.

    So my experience is that the uncompromising liberalism and atheism draws in new readers, but the science content adds real value that keeps people returning. Of course, that conclusion’s based on a sample size of 1. I’m curious if others have had a similar experience.

  19. #19 Chance
    July 5, 2006

    Add to that unhinged bigotry and you’ve got the formula for success! Huzzah!

    and more superficial stupidity from Jason, it’s nearly a constant. There is no bigotry here Jason. Just ideas you can’t answer and apparently like to snipe at.

    Seriously though i found this blog being a science guy from other science links if memory serves.

    This blog is a breathe of fresh air in an oftentimes stale environment.

  20. #20 stevie_nyc
    July 5, 2006

    More of the christian victim blabber.

    Mean atheists picked on me! They’re EEEVIL.

    zzzzz.

  21. #21 Dread Pirate Flynt
    July 5, 2006

    It be pirates that put ye in th’ crow’s nest lookin’ down. Aye, taken the booty ye have. But I spy no mention o’ pirates or squid sex for that matter. I feared when ye keel hauled the pirate mode. Ye now be a squishy landlubber who’ll soon only talk of vertibrate sex an’ drink w’ yer pinky stickin’ up as high as yer nose. Pass me the grog. I be needin’ it.

  22. #22 Dycker
    July 5, 2006

    Oh No. Another Blog to eat away at my brain! Looks like a good one though. I love reading, and sometimes typing, about subjects that I know very little, like politics and science. Whamo, or rather, double Whamo.

    Cheers to Pharyngula

  23. #23 David Harmon
    July 5, 2006

    Congratulations! You deserve the recognition!

    I dunno about “everyone else”, but I gave up on Panda’s Thumb because they spent too much time (my reading time) and space (on my screen) feeding the trolls instead of discussing anything interesting. You on the other hand, are much better at squelching them, and occasionally ban the worst offenders.

  24. #24 Bruce Thompson
    July 5, 2006

    Publisher scienceblogs.com has been recruiting star science bloggers: 22 of the top 50 science blogs, inclusing Pharyngula, now live on its site. Scienceblogs pays its bloggers US$70 a month for 50,000 to 250,000 page views, and $300 for 250,000 to 1 million, according to one blogger.

    When’s the party and I know who wants to donate the beer.

  25. #25 Jason
    July 5, 2006

    and more superficial stupidity from Jason, it’s nearly a constant.

    Hey, look. Projection. Cute.

    Hmm… “Superficial stupidity?” As opposed to, oh, taking a silly stunt involving the Statue of Liberty by one church and applying it to all Christians? That’s neither “superficial” nor “stupid,” is it?

    There is no bigotry here Jason.

    The facts prove otherwise.

    Just ideas you can’t answer and apparently like to snipe at.

    This coming from someone who doesn’t answer my ideas, snipes at them and simply dismisses them as “superficial stupidity” or “trolling” without every showing why. Ironic.

  26. #26 Jason
    July 5, 2006

    More of the christian victim blabber.
    Mean atheists picked on me! They’re EEEVIL.

    More projection. This blog is dedicated to the atheist victim mentality. “Mean Christians are picking on us! They’re EEEVIL. They’re EEEVIL because one church made a foolish replica of the Statue of Liberty holding a cross. They’re EEEVIL because they see no problem with scientists and politicians having religious viewpoints. They’re EEEVIL because [insert gripe of the moment here].”

  27. #27 Chance
    July 6, 2006

    For my buddy Jason:

    Hey, look. Projection. Cute.

    Hmm… “Superficial stupidity?” As opposed to, oh, taking a silly stunt involving the Statue of Liberty by one church and applying it to all Christians? That’s neither “superficial” nor “stupid,” is it?

    superficial – Trivial; insignificant
    stupidity – Marked by a lack of intelligence or care

    Meaning the minor comments you make here lack any discernable value. You just don’t see what PZ is doing with this post do you. All these things he posts about that accumulate to mountain size year after year you say the exact same thing about.

    How about being fresh and simply saying ‘These people are doing something that goes against what that statue is supposed to mean’.

    The facts prove otherwise.

    and they are? Or does having a counter-argument against such things amount to bigotry in your world. I don’t see PZ and his crowd looking to prevent free Americans from doing anything.

    This coming from someone who doesn’t answer my ideas, snipes at them and simply dismisses them as “superficial stupidity” or “trolling” without every showing why. Ironic

    Uh, you never present any ideas other than ‘government vs nation’ and when you do they are answered. By many. Unfortunatley you probably actually believe you are presenting some real concrete ideas.

  28. #28 G. Tingey
    July 6, 2006

    Talking of unhinged bigotry ……

    The Intelligent Design listing over at CSICOP has a pointer to this insanity – which reflects back to Dr. Myers’ challenge to the Coulterites.
    http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/vernon/060704

    Anyone want to take it up, and (gently?) point out to these ID-iots that they are wrong, and why?

  29. #29 Keith Douglas
    July 6, 2006

    The Bad Astronomer: Can’t you be both? Or wear both hats? Some of us need a hat rack we have so many, after all.

    Wow, #1. What would be interesting is comparing it to other sites, particularly others that are one man jobs – at least in terms of entries. (As, after all, I realize that us readers/commenters do affect who else reads and comments.)

  30. #30 odysseus
    July 6, 2006

    Congratulations, PZ!

    I may not get the chance to comment as often as I would like – too many irons in the fire. But I check out your blog quite regulary, and it would be impossible for me to ennumerate all the times that you have managed to explain fascinating topics with clarity and pointed out new and important developments in Evo Devo – the learning of which makes life well worth living.

    Best regards,
    Tim

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