The Cell on science blogging

There is a new (nice and long) article by Laura Bonetta about science blogging in today's issue of the journal Cell.

Bloggers on A Blog Around The Clock, Pharyngula, Aetiology, Framing Science, The Daily Transcript, Sandwalk, In the Pipeline, Nobel Intent, Useful Chemistry, De Rerum Natura and Panda's Thumb are mentioned and/or interviewed. A couple of carnivals, e.g., Tangled Bank, Mendel's Garden and Gene Genie are also mentioned.

For those who have no access to The Cell, I am assuming that each one of us will egotistically quote the part about oneself (like we did last month with The Scientist article), so here are the parts that are about me and then you can go around the other blogs to see their excerpts - once you put that all together you'll have the whole article, I bet:

According to the Technorati blog search engine (http://www.technorati. com), there are about 19,881 blogs with a "science" tag. Most of these are "pseudoscience blogs, new age blogs, creationist blogs, or computer technology blogs," says Bora Zivkovic, a Ph.D. student who writes A Blog Around the Clock (http://scienceblogs. com/clock). Zivkovic estimates that the actual number of science blogs is 1,000 to 1,200 and notes that such blogs are "written by graduate students, postdocs and young faculty, a few by undergraduates and tenured faculty, several by science teachers, and just a few by professional journalists."

These 1,000 or so science blogs provide authoritative opinions about pressing issues in science, such as evolution or climate change, or aim to engage other scientists in open and frank discussions about the scientific literature or science policy. Because of their freewheeling nature, these blogs take scientific communication to a different level.


The organizer of this year's NC Science Blogging Conference, Bora Zivkovic, says the initial motivation for the conference was to "meet in person a bunch of bloggers that I talk to online." Applications arrived from all over the world and more than 170 people attended. The next conference will be held January 19, 2008, also in Chapel Hill. This conference brings together "scientists, science bloggers, science journalists, and science educators for a day of exchanging ideas and information, says Zivkovic.


For the uninitiated, The Open Laboratory: The Best Writing on Science Blogs 2006, for sale at, is a collection of 50 of the best science blog posts of 2006. "When people hear 'blog' they think of a personal journal with bad grammar or a highly biased angry political post," says Zivkovic, who put together the anthology. "People
who are more comfortable with a book will see that blogs provide high quality science online."

Jason Rosenhouse, Larry Moran, Reed Cartwright, bk (in German), Daniel Rhoads and Alex Palazzo have already chimed in with their commentary on the article.

Update: ncurse, Mike, Jean-Claude Bradley and Moheb have more.

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What do your base you estimates of the number of "genuine" science blogs on? Since I'm a graduate students and I sometimes blog on science-related subject, do I count as a "science blog?" But what if the science I write about is bogus? I assume there can be people out there, affiliated with academics that think and write nonsensical stuff. Hmmm, I'm thinking, maybe I can attend that science blogging conference next year, that'll be fun. I do have to say I'm enjoying this blogging business immensely.

Off-topic P.S.: I sent you an e-mail from another e-mail account yesterday, it just occurred to me it might have ended up in your junk box.

*** Multiple Articles ***
During this century, science has greatly increased our knowledge of the natural world around us. Its telescopes have revealed the awesome wonders of the starry heavens, just as its microscopes have disclosed the amazing complexities of molecules and atoms. The marvels of design in plants and animals, the wisdom reflected in our own fearfully and wonderfully made bodiesthis knowledge also comes to us through the discoveries of hardworking scientists. We are not unappreciative.
But there is another side to science. Not all its practitioners measure up to the image of the objective, passionate pursuers of truth, regardless of where it might lead. There are too many scientists who select the material that supports their theory and discard what doesnt. They report studies they have never made and experiments they have never performed, and they fake what they cannot establish. They plagiarize the writings of fellow scientists. Many claim authorship of articles they have never worked on and maybe have never even seen!
Flagrant fraud may be rare, but some of the manipulating of data mentioned above is common. Even more common, however, are two additional kinds of fraud, both involving deceitful propaganda. The four articles that follow examine the problem.

*** g90 1/22 p. 3 Fraud in ScienceIt Makes the Headlines ***
The image of scientists as invariably dedicated to truth has been tarnished, as these headlined items show. ***
Ethics in Science
A fight is building in the U.S. House of Representatives over fraud, misconduct, and conflict of interest in science.Science, July 7, 1989.
Two New Studies Ask Why Scientists Cheat
It was an innocent enough question: how do scientists behave when no one is looking? But it has produced an incendiary answer: not too well, reports a paper this month in the British journal Nature.Newsweek, February 2, 1987.
The Case of the Misplaced Fossils
A prominent Australian scientist has examined two decades of work on ancient Himalayan geology and alleges it may be the greatest paleontological fraud of all time.Science, April 21, 1989.
Now Its the Journals Turn on the Firing Line
[He was speaking] specifically about how poorly many [science] journals have handled scientific fraud. . . . The same message previously dispatched to other members of the scientific community has now been addressed to the journals: clean up your act or you may find legislators getting into it.The AAAS Observer, July 7, 1989
Do Scientists Cheat?
After the initial inquiry by this [congressional] committee into this subject, the committee has had growing reason to believe that we are only seeing the tip of a very unfortunate, dangerous, and important iceberg.NOVA broadcast on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) on October 25, 1988.
*** w90 2/15 p. 28 Insight on the News ***
Hijacking Fossils
Under that title, the French daily Le Monde reported the case of a paleontologist in India who for 20 years . . . apparently deceived his colleagues concerning the origin of fossils that he submitted to them for their appraisal. It is claimed that the hijacking consisted of sending them fossils obtained in the United States, Africa, Czechoslovakia, and the British Isles, saying they had been discovered in the Himalaya Mountains. This scientist published his findings in over 300 articles. The fraud was brought to light by an Australian scientist via the British scientific journal Nature. He wondered how it could be that such a large quantity of doubtful findings remained unchallenged for such a long time.
One possible reason, according to Le Monde, was the law of silence heeded by many members of the scientific community. The article noted that this fossil hijacking has made useless practically all the facts accumulated [over the past 20 years] on the geology of the Himalayas.
Obviously, this new case of fraud in science does not cast doubt on the entire scientific world. It does, however, provide further evidence that arguments of paleontology when pitted against the unfailing accuracy of the Bible record are often nothing more than what the apostle Paul called the contradictions of the knowledge which is not knowledge at all.1 Timothy 6:20, The New Jerusalem Bible.

***Fraud in ScienceWhy Its on the Increase
THE competition is savage. Winners reap monumental rewards; losers face oblivion. Its an atmosphere in which an illicit shortcut is sometimes irresistiblenot least because the Establishment is frequently squeamish about confronting wrongdoing. So opened the article Publish or Perishor Fake It in U.S.News & World Report. To escape perishing, many scientific researchers are faking it.
The pressure on scientists to publish in scientific journals is overwhelming. The longer the list of published papers to the researchers name, the better his chances for employment, promotion, tenure in a university, and government grants to finance his research. The federal government controls the largest source of research funding, $5.6 [thousand million] a year from the National Institutes of Health.
Because the scientific community shows little stomach for confronting its ethical dilemma, has been strangely reluctant to probe too deeply for hard data about its ethical conduct, and isnt keen about cleaning house or even looking closely for malfeasance, congressional committees have held hearings and considered legislation to do the job of policing for them. (New Scientist; U.S.News & World Report) This prospect wrings from scientists much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Yet, one science journal asks and answers the question: Is the house of science clean and in order? The bit of evidence that reaches the public invites serious doubts.
Some researchers eliminate data that does not support what they want to prove (called cooking); report more tests or trials than were actually run (called trimming); appropriate for their own use data or ideas of other researchers (called plagiarism); and make up experiments or data they never performed or produced (called forging). A cartoon in a science journal poked fun at this last tactic, one scientist talking to another and saying of a third: Hes published a lot since he took up that creative writing course.
Whats the major product of scientific research these days? Answer: Paper, U.S.News & World Report said. Hundreds of new journals are being founded each year to handle the flood of research papers cranked out by scientists who know that the road to academic success is a long list of articles to their credit. Quantity, not quality, is the goal. Forty thousand journals published yearly produce a million articles, and part of this flood is symptomatic of fundamental ills, including a publish-or-perish ethic among researchers that is stronger now than ever and encourages shoddy, repetitive, useless or even fraudulent work.