Stranger Fruit

I was wondering what posts of mine over the past year have received the most hits; What do people link to and what do the comment on? The “top twenty” posts are given below the fold and it is interesting to note that they can be characterized into three major categories: “anti-science” [1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 20] or posts about religion, atheism and/or Dawkins [7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 18]. This really boils down to issues relating to science and religion, with only two other topics (the
backscatter x-ray being used at airports
[“airport porn”] and a strange beastie in Maine) cracking the list.

Controversy, it appears, is popular, certainly more so than scientific stories. I’d be interested in hearing if other science blogs have the same experience.

The top twenty posts by page visits (# of comments as of 1/21/07):

  1. Go USA! We’re #2 …. kind of … [74]
  2. Strange beastie in Maine [22]
  3. Darwin, Marx and Bad Scholarship [36]
  4. The Year in ID [27]
  5. Fire in the sky. [80]
  6. ID in 2007 – from the horses mouth [12]
  7. Dawkins’ “stock reply” [65]
  8. On this day … [64]
  9. Rainbow and Lightning [6]
  10. Weinberg on expertise [71]
  11. Dembski’s Daschund? [2]
  12. Proud to be a “Left Be-Hinder” (whatever that means) [11]
  13. The Year in ID (DI version) [4]
  14. In which I agree with Ed [41]
  15. Einstein was a dunce [19]
  16. Gould and the worst science books ever [5]
  17. On Atheists, Agnostics and Dawkins [23]
  18. Setting the record straight [17]
  19. Airport Porn [4]
  20. I am not a Darwinist [9]


  1. #1 Mike Kaspari
    January 21, 2007

    Pharyngula noted a similar phenomena–posts about science don’t get the attention than those about scientific politics do.
    As for Getting things done in Academia, the top 10 posts in the last month:

    1. Five ways of breaking the procrastination habit
    2. Five ways to read broadly (and why you should)
    3. 30 minutes a day you can’t afford to miss (on exercise)
    4. Five ways of dealing with that rejected manuscript
    5. Ten reasons to watch where you put your hands
    6. Five lessons on changing someone’s mind
    7. Catching, and holding attention–the biophilia effect
    8. Keep it short redux
    9. Warning, graphic humor
    10. Five reasons to quadruple the time you spend on your title

    Alas, the cool stuff on my research focus–ants and the brown food web–shows up lower. Decomposition, apparently, is a harder sell than productivity.

    Maybe if I posted on how creationists don’t believe in the role decomposition plays in global warming…. 😉

  2. #2 Alex Leibowitz
    January 21, 2007

    Some of the conversations leave a very bad feeling in my stomach. It makes me think, ‘If only I were pure enough (and had the money), I might just go live in Norway and study only mathematics’.

  3. #3 Shalini
    January 22, 2007

    Yes, it happens on my blog too. In my case, the post that generated the most comments was an ‘anti-science’ post in which I had the pleasure of tearing homeopathy apart. (yet again)

  4. #4 yagwara
    January 22, 2007

    To be fair, I read the blogs for the science first, and the controversy is just icing. But, typically the best comment I can summon for a science topic I know little about is “Neat post! Thanks!”.

    In fact, it seems a good proportion of comments to science posts are corrections or clarifications from people in the know. So, you could even make a case that the better the science post, the fewer the comments.

    I’m sure I’m not alone in this – I want more science! Less controversy! But when you folks tell us about the science, I’m going to listen respectfully and only occasionally ask a question.

  5. #5 Siamang
    January 22, 2007

    The controversial ones are the ones where people are aguing in the comments. You’ll get a lot of read on those ones because people keep checking back to see if anyone’s responded to their oh so brilliant counter argument.

    I wouldn’t worry about it. Keep those science posts coming.

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