Sb Has 19 Active Blogs

I'm not a big blog reader, sad to tell, and I have almost no insight into what's going on elsewhere in the science blogosphere including ScienceBlogs. But a few days ago I got curious about what the network I'm on is like these days, and I did some investigating. I was surprised by what I found. In the following, when I talk about active blogs, I mean blogs that have seen an entry in the past month.

On 24 January, ScienceBlogs had only 19 active blogs.* Eleven of these opened in 2006, Sb's first year. The network had no less than 112 inactive blogs, most of which started after 2006. This suggests that Sb's original recruitment strategy was rather different and far stronger than it's been in later years.

Dear Reader, maybe you might want to have a look at the other active Sb blogs? I can't say that I know what most of them are like, except that their writers are certainly steady and dependable people who aren't given to brief enthusiasms.

* Though the roll-down menu lists 38 as active.

Update same evening: Chad Orzel at Uncertain Principles commented on the state of Sb back in December.

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A year ago I took a look at the surrounding landscape here at Sb, investigating which of the blogs were active – defined as which ones had seen an entry during the month up to 24 Jan '15. Now I've looked at the month up to 17 Jan '16. The result isn't great. Four blogs have gone quiet and one has…
A year ago I took a look at the surrounding landscape here at Sb, investigating which of the blogs were active – defined as which ones had seen an entry during the month up to 19 Jan '16. Now I've looked at the month up to 24 Jan '17. The result isn't great. Four blogs have gone quiet and three…
I know I'm sure as hell having a hard time keeping up with all the comings and goings. If anything, the impression is probably that the lights are practically out and we're all singing Old Lang Syne. This, of course, is far from the case. The lights are still on, we're most of us blogging away.…
What with the latest round of departures seemingly immanent with the new "no pseudonymous bloggers" policy, I thought I'd revisit the list I did last year at about this time. With a few exceptions, I'll call blogs dormant if there hasn't been a post in 2011. 2010 World Science Festival Blog (…

I read some of them, although I try to avoid the ones which are very enthusiastic about issues local to the US. Better to worry about things which I can affect! One thing which I enjoy about Aard is the view of academic life as a contractor in Sweden.

Academic contractor's issues are a new thing to me, 2.5 years only. I heard a funny viewpoint the other day from an employer. "I can't pay you what Umeå pays you. That's what we pay habilitated doctors". This is funny because the same person decides when/if I become habilitated! I've had the formal qualifications for years.

Wow, Sweden has the habilitation system too? I suppose that makes geographical and historical sense, but I am still trying to wrap my mind around the system in Austria.

I suppose that readers of this blog might enjoy The Renaissance Mathematicus

Oh, hello. I'm Stoat. I'm here via SS (Dynamics of Cats) who I'm friends with on Fb. I'm also not in the habit of following my fellow Sb'ers.

I tend to support some pre-filtering: I read what shows up on the main page, but I also look at the comment histories for Ethan (Starts with a Bang), Greg Laden, and Chad Orzel (Uncertain Principles).

I've noticed that several of the "active" blocks you mention are essentially "read only." They have minimal to no comment threads, and certainly no interaction with commenters. The ones I've noted particularly are Weizmann, LIfelines, and USASEF.

Conversely, you, Greg and Ethan seem to be the most active at directly monitoring and responding to commenters. Orac (Respectful Insolence) as well, but he has a pretty solid group of mutually active skeptics there.

By Michael Kelsey (not verified) on 26 Jan 2015 #permalink

Yeah, the three that you mention are essentially one-way broadcasting platforms for organisations. The people keeping them probably get paid to write but not to engage.

Greg Laden has good coverage of climate research news.
--- --- --- --- ---
(OT) In regard to cultures changing, altering the perspective for those looking back; One day people will be freaked out by the notion that not all humans could enjoy a full head of hair: "Using stem cells to grow new hair"
Likewise, things like obesity will make future humans think of us as more primitive than we really were...

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 27 Jan 2015 #permalink

....and Starts With A Bang provides easy to understand primers of cosmology and astronomy.
--- --- ---
Ancient star system reveals Earth-sized planets forming near start of universe
These planets are too hot to have water, but the interesting thing is the very great age of the system.

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 27 Jan 2015 #permalink

@Sean M #1: ScienceBlogs LLC is an internationally accessible resource of supposedly science- and evidence-based information: its worldwide audience might reasonably expect ScienceBlogs LLC to accept only bloggers that have a considerably above average mastery of critical thinking skills. However, some of the bloggers do not respond well when I occasionally point out their strong USA-centric biases and/or other errors in their thinking.

I try very hard to use the principle of charity[1] when reading each blog post and its reader comments, but for me, the dissemination of globally-applicable evidence-based truth far outweighs my strong desire to remain quiet and just show humility and reverence to each blogger and my deep thanks for the existence of ScienceBlogs LLC.

Addressing blogs both here and in general: it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that some of the most prolific bloggers are adding fuel to many of the problems/arguments that they write about rather than helping to solve the problems. Such bloggers are not only refusing to adopt the suggestions of Peter Boghossian and David McRaney, they are also refusing to accept the increasing findings of 21st Century cognitive science.


Pete, I think that the problem is that there will always be tension between trying to think better/educate the public and between building a movement/selling books. People who want to sell a lot of books and ads and hours of public speaking succeed by saying a lot of bold things in public which support some group's identity, not by focusing on what they know best and admitting when they could be wrong. None of Martin's careful books on Swedish archaeology will sell as many copies as the one by a Harvard professor who doesn't know why pigs, butchers, ravens, and gallows might all appear in a woodcut labelled “Saturn.” Al West posted his own thoughts on the problem at

Sean M, I don't want anyone to think that I was including Martin Rundkvist in my remarks.

I understand what you are saying, but have you actually read the works of Peter Boghossian and David McRaney? While McRaney's books are exceedingly valuable contributions to critical thinking in their own right, he takes great pains to educate the public using his website and public speaking. Here is just one example of deeply profound critical thinking that he has illustrated "Missing What is Missing":…

The video is only 17 minutes yet it is packed full of important information for scientists, skeptics, and the general public.

Pete, I certainly expect neither humility nor reverence from my readers! You guys are what makes blogging worthwhile.

Pete, I have not read either of those authors, but I am basing my statement on the common characteristics of people who become famous as bloggers, popular science writers, or public speakers. The more wealth and fame they have, the less humble and scientific their words, and one can usually trace these differences before they became famous. Face-to-face I would happily give some examples. Because the publishing industry is so competitive, this is strong evidence that some strategies are more likely to bring fame and riches than others.

The free-thinking group in Canada which I respected focused on local activities and advocating for evidence-based policy in Canada, not on silly people and bad policies in other countries. Again, I would be happy to say more in person.

Sean M, your comment seems to imply that we shouldn't try to learn a plethora of very useful things from "The Four Horsemen": Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens.

Not being rude, but as you've never read the two authors I mentioned your argument is perhaps a non sequitur, a straw man, or (I think more likely) a hasty generalization.

Pete, I do not understand. I am not making any claim about any of the authors you mention (although I would be happy to talk face-to-face about the ones whom I have read). I am making a claim about hundreds of writers and speakers and 'public intellectuals' whom I have observed, both ones whose work I am professionally competent to judge, and ones who just touch on my intellectual interests such as skepticism and science-fiction. I don't claim that my opinion of the later group is worth more than anyone else's, but I don't think it is worth any less, because I have been mulling over the problem for a good many years now.

I would also say that I have learned a good deal from books by celebrities without degrees or work experience in the topic of the book ... but that if you want to learn about an evidence-based subject, you should probably start with a handbook or encyclopaedia entry by someone with demonstrated expertise in that subject which sold a few thousand or tens of thousand copies. That is a heuristic not an algorithm, but epistemology is hard.

Dana Ullman on homeopathy would fulfil your criteria for a good place to start learning -- sorry, I disagree.

Some of the best science public speakers may be of a generation too early to "get into" blogging.
Example: Hans Rosling is not into blogging, but his lectures (Ted Talks) have proven that statistics is not dull and he has done very much to counter myths about demography and epidemiology.
(He also went to Liberia and became deputy state epedmiologist during the worst Ebola outbreak. His experiences show the Africans did everything right, once they understood the severity of the outbreak)

By BirgerJohansson (not verified) on 30 Jan 2015 #permalink

Yes, personal attacks on scholars by people who dislike the evidence and conclusions which they present are a problem everywhere.

Hans Rosling seems thoughtful from what I have seen, but he does not strike me as one of the best known figures in popular science, or one who could make a generous living from books and lectures and patronage. I only know of him through his TED talk. I would welcome a suggestion of how to measure this! (WorldCat hits? Mentions in a database of newspaper articles?)