I know I usually post the crazy wacky stuff under this title, but to be honest, that’s actually a minority of the stuff that finds its way to my inbox: most of it is neutral in tone, a lot of it is telling me I must write about subject X, but some of it is also complimentary — and the good stuff outnumbers the deranged stuff.
So here is a fairly typical letter from someone I outraged and offended once. I know this is only anecdotal so it can’t be used to make quantitative arguments about the effectiveness of my approach, but it does work for some people. I never get letters telling me they fell in love with me at first sight, but I get lots with the “you really pissed me off, Myers” intro.
Also, the nice letters tend to spell my name correctly and don’t use multiple font styles and colors.
To Dr. Myers,
I would like to express a deeply sincere and most thoughtful acknowledgement of gratitude (fancy way to say thank you!).
When I first found your blog site Pharyngula, I was deeply outraged and if I am being honest, offended. At that point I was a Christian, on a path leaving many preconceptions behind me. It was in turn, a part of your witty humour and cynicism that made me abandon by “Young Earth/Intelligent Design” notions I learned from the year I spent at Liberty University (a mistake of schools, if I can even call it that) It was also because many scientists challenged me to think about the world around me, and question the things I thought I knew. This led me to do research and I finally understood evolution. I will refrain from saying “believe in evolution” for believing in evolution is just as redundant as saying believing in gravity. I understand what the Theory of Evolution states and therefore my appreciation for biological science has increased tremendously.
However, my thank you does not stop at my understanding of science. Both you and Professor Richard Dawkins (whom I greatly wish I could have the opportunity to speak with) have influenced me (sort of as a role model, I am 20 years old) in my passion for science, and both of you have challenged me into bringing into light my own theological world view. I wanted to sincerely thank you for the challenge that you (unknowingly) gave me when it came to thinking, a fundamental right that is essential to progress. My journey into my unbelief was greatly assisted by both you, Dr. Myers, and Prof. Dawkins.
If it would please you, I have even changed my major to bio-medical engineering to pursue my new found passion of science. Earlier, I was studying political science(and social sciences just do not have the appeal as natural sciences do).
Again, many thanks! My thoughts go with you and hope that you are well!
I do worry that I might be contributing to a future glut of biologists.