Farewell to EvolutionBlog!

Folks, I'm done.

A recent story in the news involves the decision by FIDE, the world chess federation, to hold the Women's World Championship in Iran. That's a bit awkward, since Iran imposes certain religion-inspired dress requirements on women. This has led some players, most notably the current American women's champion Nazi Paikidze, to boycott. She is supported in this by the U. S. Chess Federation, among many others. Frankly, you have to go back to the 1970s to find a time when FIDE was something other than a corrupt embarrassment to chess players.

So here we have a story about religion interfering with chess, and I still couldn't work up any enthusiasm for writing about it. Definitely time to pack it in.

I started blogging in 2002, when a friend of mine basically dared me to. We were both post-docs at Kansas State University, and we were both chronic night-owls. Most nights we ended up at Gumby's Pizzeria after midnight, sitting in a booth surrounded by drunk, loud college students, talking about math or politics. We were both blog readers, which at that time largely meant Atrios and Andrew Sullivan and a few others who got in on the ground floor. He said I should start my own blog, and--why not!--I did.

I was fresh out of graduate school, still in my twenties, struggling to get some sort of research program started and worrying about long-term employment prospects. Blogging was a wonderful stress-reliever. At the end of the day I could blow off a little steam, rant about whatever was on my mind, and take a break from the obscure problems in algebraic graph theory and analytic number theory I worked on during the day. It was therapeutic! I was someone who liked writing, who felt he had things to say, and who liked the instant feedback blogging could give you.

At that time ID was still on the ascendant (The Kitzmiller blow was still a few years off) and the New Atheists had not yet arrived on the scene. After a few years blogging on my own, SEED magazine “discovered” me and made me part of their stable of science bloggers. A blog collective like that was a new thing at the time. During those years I blogged obsessively. The folks at SEED brought us all together for blog gatherings in New York once a year. They commissioned a caricature of all of us, that I still have framed and hanging on my wall. That's when blogging was really fun.

But after a few years of this, things changed. SEED, along with so many other magazines, folded. The original group of bloggers largely went their separate ways, and the feeling of really being part of something faded.

Moreover, my professional interests changed. Ever since the publication of The Monty Hall Problem I've been finding more and more of my time spent on writing and editing. I currently have two books under contract (one as author and one as editor), at various stages of writing and production, and I am likely to have a third one going soon. I am also now the book review editor for the American Mathematical Monthly. I now spend so much of my time staring at a screen trying to make words appear, or trying to improve someone else's words, that blogging no longer seems like much of a release. It just seems like more of the same. Not writing is now my stress reliever.

So I think it's time to hang it up, at least for a while. Maybe a few months down the line I'll discover that I miss it. When I started the blog, I never imagined that it would go anywhere. At its peak, the blog was averaging about two thousand hits a day, which still seems like a staggering number to me. I am incredibly appreciative of everyone who read, linked to, or commented on my little musings. Even the critics!

I am also incredibly grateful first to SEED, for plucking me from obscurity in the first place, and more recently to the National Geographic Blog network for continuing to give me a home.

It's time to move on. The last vestiges of my SIWOTI syndrome have left me. The Internet remains a bottomless pit of stupidity. (It has its good points too!) It used to be that I would read something foolish, and then stew about it all day until I could unload in an epic blog post. I was updating nearly every day, and writing those updates was the highlight of my day.

I have not had that passion for quite a while now. So, it's time to give up the ghost. Good-bye!

More like this

Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod! Just try to guess why I am so excited right now. I dare you, just try. I'll even give you some time... Okay, so maybe the title gave it away. The long awaited (among chess fans anyway) match between Viswanathan Anand of India and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia begins today.…
Omigod, omigod, omigod! Ask me how excited I am. Go ahead, ask me. Answer: Very excited. Why? Because the match for the World Chess Championship begins tomorrow, as you would know if our miserable press corps would get around to covering something important for a change. The defending champion…
That's the headline in The New York Times. I'm not kidding. Game five of the big reunification match for the World Chess Championship was supposed to be today. This was the match that was going to restore harmony to the chess world, after the big split in 1993 when Gary Kasparov refused to defend…
If you haven't heard our Seed overlords are offering $15,000 in matching funds. Seed is also offering some sweet prizes to donors which you can enter to win: 1 fresh, new iPod nano 21 "Seed Hearts Threadless" tee shirts (design here ) 21 ScienceBlogs mugs 21 subscriptions to Seed magazine 9…

Well I can't speak for everyone, but I'll miss you

Fare thee well.

By Bill McNeal (not verified) on 17 Oct 2016 #permalink

Your blog was my gateway drug to the science blogosphere and the wired world of science denialism so I don't know whether to thank you for broadening my horizons or denounce you for the lost hours and coffee stained monitors. Best wishes for whatever comes your way and I hope at some time in the future you find the energy to return.

By Dominic Hind (not verified) on 17 Oct 2016 #permalink

By all means take a hiatus (especially until this crazy, depressing election season is over), but then do re-consider... your voice is needed, exactly because the Internet can be such a bottomless pit.

I've really enjoyed your blog, Jason. Thanks, and best wishes.

By Richard Wein (not verified) on 17 Oct 2016 #permalink

So long, and thanks for all the fish. They've been yummy.

See you when you get back (since I expect you'll be sucked back in eventually).

By Physicalist (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

To echo others here: sorry to see you go and I will definitely miss this blog and the quality and interestingness of your writings. Call me overly optimistic, but I'm keeping evolutionblog in my rss reader, just in case :).

By Alain Van Hout (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

I'm going to say au revoir rather than goodbye. But I completely understand; when hobbies start to feel more like a job you dread, its time to get a new hobby.

Even absent the social commentary, I would love it if you could pop on the net every once in a while to announce your new book releases. I enjoyed Monty Hall and Sudoku, and am looking forward to your next similar book!

Dude! Say it's no so!

In spite of its inexcusable infrequency, your blog was one of the reasons I would sit down at the computer in the morning. Like everyone else, I’ll miss you. But I hope we run into each other from time to time at meetings.

By Jonathan Lubin (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Fare Well; you'll be missed.

sean s.

By sean samis (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Well, I'm keeping your blog in my RSS feed, just in case you post something later! Meanwhile, I look forward to the publication of your next book.

By Miles Rind (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Long time reader here. Very appreciative of all your work. Good luck on your future endeavours.

By Jason Bonney (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Sorry to see you go, Jason. I still remember fondly the trip to the Creation Museum. Be well.

Good luck! I've greatly enjoyed your articles over the years.

By Simon Allaway (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Not a surprise at all but let me add: NOOOOOOOOO!
I've enjoyed most your posts very much over the years. Thanks.

By Kurt Helf (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

I'm sorry to see you go. I have enjoyed your writing, though I never quite got into the chess problems. So thanks and best wishes.

Well, darn. Best wishes, Jason.

BTW for this week's POTW, I find two times that satisfy the criteria.

By Another Matt (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

It's been a pleasure.

By grasshopper (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

See you soon, I hope! (I much appreciated The Monty Hall Problem :-) )

Well Jason, I have to say that I’m very sad, and the absence of your blog will leave a hole. I suppose we might have seen this coming, you’ve been warning us for a while that your blogging enthusiasm has been waning, and the posts have thinned out over the last year or so. I guess there’s only so many times that you can explain why monkeys are still around, no it doesn’t violate the 2nd law, yes new information can arise, no it doesn’t imply a designer, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam, until even the most patient of explainers just gets a bit worn down – I can hardly say I blame you, but even so I will miss you a lot, and I’m sure the blogosphere more generally will do so too. Good luck with all your future plans, hope you come back some time. Meanwhile, do look me up if you’re ever in old London town. Best Wishes. Phil.

All the best.

Bummer! Take care.

I have been reading for a long time, but I rarely comment. I appreciate your writing and will miss it. Good luck in your other writing endeavors.

Very sorry to hear it! I'll watch this space in case you decide to jump back into this at some point. Best wishes and have fun.

I've enjoyed your blog over the years, but, you need to do what best satisfies you.

Happy Trails!

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Sorry to see this, Jason; from a longtime lurker on this blog. Come back soon, if the whimsy takes you.

I've enjoyed your blog for many years, and sad to hear you are closing up shop. Good luck with your academic career. (Perhaps Jerry Coyne will let you guest post at his BLOG(!) if something ever comes up that motivates you to give your unique and well thought-out perspective.)

Good riddance.

By See Noevo (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Hey! My comment posted!
Apparently, I'm no longer banned from this b.s. blog.
Maybe it's going defunct for dearth of comments/interest.
Whatever.
Good riddance.

By See Noevo (not verified) on 18 Oct 2016 #permalink

Pity. Thanks for your writings!

I'm really sorry to hear it! I particularly enjoyed the chess posts as you explained them in a way it was easy for a total non-expert to understand. I'm another reader who will keep an eye out for any return.

Thanks for all the kind words! When I did my usual morning round-up of news sites today I found myself mentally composing the blog post I would have written about each one of them. Guess it's going to take a while to get that out of my system.

Richard Wein--

Thanks for leaving some of the most interesting and well-thought out comments this blog has ever seen. And thanks also for your epic review of No Free Lunch, which remains one of the finest pieces of anti-ID writing around.

Physicalist--

Douglas Adams reference? Always appreciated!

eric--

Your comments have nearly always said what I was thinking, but said it better than I would have said it. Thanks for your classiness in dealing with the occasional trolls this blog would attract.

heddle-

I was pretty disappointed when you stopped blogging, so consider this my revenge.

Jonathan Lubin--

Glad you liked the blog, and I'll definitely keep my eyes open for you at Joint Meetings and MathFests. It's been twenty-two years since I took your Galois theory course, and I've just about gotten over the B you gave me!

RBH--

The Creation Museum? Good times! Maybe we should plan a trip to the Noah's Ark park, to recreate the magic.

Bayesian Bouffant --

Interesting video. Who knew that Liv Tyler was into chess? And I have always loved your internet handle.

divalent--

Jerry Coyne's been annoying me lately, since he sometimes writes mean things about Hillary Clinton. In an election in which the Republican candidate is a threat to the basic stability of American democracy, not to mention basic human decency, Jerry seems more worked up over the sensationalist headlines over at Huffington Post. But after the election I think I'll go back to enjoying his blog!

See Noevo--

Why are you so obsessive about commenting on a blog you think is BS? Don't actually answer that. I'll let you have one silly comment, but that's it!

I understand your position, but I will miss your posts. Thank you for your past offerings, and if you ever do take up regular postings again in my lifetime, I will be happy to read them.

By Jim Roberts (not verified) on 19 Oct 2016 #permalink

Au revoir

I just want to say that commenting on this site has helped me a great deal in learning about and clarifying my own thoughts on evolution, on science, and on many related topics. Your work here was greatly appreciated; and it will be missed. But change is the only constant, so we all must deal with that. I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.

sean s.

By sean samis (not verified) on 19 Oct 2016 #permalink

Jason, I have learned a lot from this blog and it has been useful to hear such interesting discussions from your different commentators. Cheers.

You've been a candle burning bright. Sorry to see you go.

All the best with your future endeavors.
It was always enjoyable reading your blog , and informative too!

By Deepak Shetty (not verified) on 20 Oct 2016 #permalink

eric–

Your comments have nearly always said what I was thinking, but said it better than I would have said it. Thanks for your classiness in dealing with the occasional trolls this blog would attract.

Well, thank you in return for hosting a very classy as well as interesting blog! Since I can't read you 'live', I'm gonna go order Among the Creationists now...

This was a blog that I've been consistently able to both read and comment on in my obviously copious spare time. It's a shame to see it go, but, yeah, if a hobby turns into a job that's really not good.

By Verbose Stoic (not verified) on 21 Oct 2016 #permalink

"They commissioned a caricature of all of us, that I still have framed and hanging on my wall. That’s when blogging was really fun.

But after a few years of this, things changed. SEED, along with so many other magazines, folded. The original group of bloggers largely went their separate ways, and the feeling of really being part of something faded."

This. So much this. I too still have my framed print.

By John Lynch (not verified) on 22 Oct 2016 #permalink

Thanks for writing a great blog for such a long time Jason. I'll miss it immensely. Best of luck.

It's been fun - always enjoyed your commentary on creationism and the interactions with the good, bad and ugly visitors.

By Michael Fugate (not verified) on 22 Oct 2016 #permalink

How many creationists think that Jason is now writing a 'Farewell to Evolution" blog?

By Jim Roberts (not verified) on 23 Oct 2016 #permalink

I have enjoyed reading your posts, which were great. Do please leave those posts and comments "up".

By Joe Felsenstein (not verified) on 23 Oct 2016 #permalink

Jason,
thanks for all the good posts. I have really enjoyed them over the years. My son visited this weekend and asked to borrow my copy of Among the Creationists. I hope he enjoys it as much as I did!
Cheers

By Cornelius (not verified) on 24 Oct 2016 #permalink

Youth does often need to set hellos and goodbyes. Having just discovered you at this juncture I hope I am not hearing the last of the moral certainty you seem to hold. Your internet presence is a welcome defiance of what I call Mr. Spock logic. He entertained but what disservice to concepts of logic! I have read your exchanges with people wanting to shout at you not because you were ever incorrect but because you knew you were correct. And know is a word we take very seriously with a precise definition (as if that's news to you.) but it is news to most others now.

Well, I've appreciated your well-written and intelligent analyses of this or that issue. Thank you, and here's hoping the passion returns.

By musical beef (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

This is a bummer, but thanks for all the great posts over the years. I've enjoyed them a lot and learned a lot. All the best in the future!!! (<-- Three exclamation points, so I clearly mean it!)

Thanks, Jason, I always appreciated your posts and the discussions they provoked.

By Walt Jones (not verified) on 29 Oct 2016 #permalink

Only discovered your blog a couple of years ago, but have really appreciated it since then. Sorry to see it close, but can understand the reasons.

By Michael Clarke (not verified) on 30 Oct 2016 #permalink

Well this is a sad turn of events,,,but all things evolve,, and some go extinct! Sorry to see you go Jason. You have been a bookmark since 2004 for me and I really liked the chess posts.

I also felt you really cared about people, even if they were creationists.. Post some cat pics!

By Kevin Dowd (not verified) on 01 Nov 2016 #permalink