The drive behind science-blogging

1 minute read

August seems to be a month of self-reflection. Maybe it's that everyone is on vacation. There certainly hasn't been much anthropology news, although work here continues.

There has been a recent string of posts elsewhere on the motivations behind blogging in science, and it's worth reading some of them. They come after this recent article in The Scientist (registration required), which focused on blogger Derek Lowe, a pharmaceutical researcher. Lowe now has his own followup, with links to other opinions. Here's a sample:

Chad Orzel goes on to note that large numbers of people see science as something that's difficult, boring, and beyond them, so they just tune out. I'm afraid he's right. But I used to explain my experiments to the janitorial staff when I worked late at my first job, which showed me that this didn't have to be the situation. To be sure, none of my explanations started off with the phrase "Consider the Hamiltonian. . .", but none of my conversations with my colleagues start that way, either, not if I can help it.
So when I found out about blogging, I didn't hesitate very long before jumping in. Here was a chance to do just the kind of thing I did when talking to people one-on-one, but for as many visitors as cared to stop by.

I try to describe some difficult stuff here. If I were getting paid for it, I'm sure I could make it more understandable; but as it is, I certainly try.

The post includes this great comment, that sums up some of the most important effects of scientists themselves communicating what they do.

I can't think of a worse way to make science more attractive than by a stepped-up attack on God, ghosts and the Loch Ness monster. People perceive (correctly) that "skeptic" types (a group which, in my experience, has minimal overlap with real scientists) use science as a club to attack the sensibilities of others and aggrandize themselves. I want people to think of science as something that makes the world richer and fuller, not thinner and bleaker.

Cheers to that.