The Scientific Activist

This Thursday’s issue of Nature ranks the top 50 science blogs on the internet and, somewhat surprisingly, The Scientific Activist lands in the #5 spot. The top 5, with their Technorati ranks in parentheses, are as follows:

  1. Pharyngula (179)
  2. The Panda’s Thumb (1,647)
  3. RealClimate (1,884)
  4. Cosmic Variance (2,174)
  5. The Scientific Activist (3,429)

You can guess which blog is the odd one out…. Still it’s quite an honor to be placed among such prestigious company. Blogs considered in the rankings “as far as can be established, are written by working scientists and are about science (not their cat).” After identifying popular science blogs, these sites were ranked based on the Technorati method of counting the number of incoming links within the past six months. Although ScienceBlogs.com only had two blogs in the top five, the next seven on the list were ScienceBlogs locals, and 22 ScienceBloggers in total made it into the top 50. This isn’t surprising at all, considering the impressive quality of blogging going on around here.

Declan Butler, who wrote the story for Nature (and who has his own blog here) asked each of the bloggers in the top 5 how they accounted for their success. Although I think I do some good things around here to make The Scientific Activist a popular site, I think I was pretty clear about what propelled my blog to the national stage:

Nick Anthis, who only began blogging in January, knows the reason for his site’s swift rise to fame. During a political censorship row at NASA in February, Anthis was the first to reveal that a key official had lied about graduating from Texas A&M University. “Before I knew it, it had exploded into a major national news story and he resigned.” After an initial spike in traffic, many stayed on as regular readers.

Since they didn’t make it into the article, here are my “deeper thoughts” on the issue:

Blogging is a fascinating phenomenon, one that’s just now coming into its own and realizing a role that is unique but complementary to that of the traditional media. As a scientist, my work is about the search for and communication of new knowledge. Blogging is a natural extension of that view, since it offers me and many others the ability to communicate information to the public almost instantaneously. This is a truly powerful tool that the scientific community should embrace (and in many ways it is already beginning to). With so many challenges to science coming from all directions, particularly the religious right in America, scientists need to take a more active role in communicating to the public about what they do and why it’s important. Blogging offers an extremely effective way to do this.

Of course, the way that Nature ranked the blogs is controversial, and I would argue that if someone was ranking the most influential science blogs, mine would certainly not be in the top five. For a taste of how some of the others took the news, see Pharyngula, A Blog Around the Clock, Aetiology, The Daily Transcript, and Stranger Fruit.

Comments

  1. #1 S E E Quine
    July 8, 2006

    ` YYYEEEEAAAAAAAAAH, beaches!!!! Publicity!