(...and to ScienceBlogs.com, which was coincidentally launched on the same day.)
Today marks the one year anniversary of my first post on The Scientific Activist, back at the old scientificactivist.blogspot.com site. The first post, which laid out fairly accurately what this site would be about, can be read here. In fact, if you read down to the bottom, the very first comment on my site came from Tara Smith of Aetiology, who I later ended up joining on ScienceBlogs.com. ScienceBlogs.com has certainly been the story in science blogging this last year, and it has been quite an honor to be a part of something so big.
It's been a pretty exciting year, and when I first conceived of the idea of The Scientific Activist, I could have never guessed where it would have ended up. The crowning achievement of the year was, of course, the removal of a Bush-appointed science censor at NASA with this post. All of the press (including mentions in The New York Times and Time Magazine, among others) that resulted from the NASA revelation gave me quite a rush, but, more importantly, these events once again demonstrated the power of the blog (and of the individual) to affect change in our society. Hopefully, it also gave scientists in particular some motivation to speak out on the issues that they feel are important.
With a such a high profile following the NASA incident, The Scientific Activist also received a few accolades. The most significant, obviously, was being selected as the web's hottest male science blogger.... Just kidding. Seriously, though, being named one of Nature Magazine's Top Five Science Bloggers was quite an honor, although I still feel that the methodology that put me there was slightly flawed.
Although it has been overshadowed by all of the press surrounding NASA and Deutsch, one of the most exciting thing I did this year was chronicle the animal rights movement in Oxford and the response of local scientists. The formation of the pro-research group Pro-Test was quite a significant event, one that should serve as a model for scientists everywhere.
Of course, I couldn't write this post without thinking all of my readers, both the loyal ones who come back day after day and those who may be just coming to the site for the first time. Either way, I hope you enjoy what you've read, and I always enjoy feedback, especially in the comments section. So, don't be shy. Feel free to tell me what you think, and together we'll keep this conversation on science and politics going strongly through 2007 and onward.
Well put Nick, I reckon that in the future scientists and their supporters will look back on 2006 as the year when science started to stand up for itself.
What has been demonstrated quite clearly is the need for individual scientists (and supporters of science)to be willing to speak out on issues that affect science. Your own efforts and those of the Pro-Test movement in Oxford show what individuals can accomplish, initially often in the face of very lukewarm support or even discouragement from the leadership of the scientific community.
I suppose the message of 2006 is that if you see an issue where science is being distorted or ignored don't assume that somone else higher up will respond to it, make your opinions known. It doesn't matter if it's by blog, public debate or by writing letters or comment pieces for a newspaper, just make sure that anti-scientific views are not allowed to spread just because we can't be bothered to tell people what the real facts are.