I started writing this blog to organize my notes. It quickly became much more. As people began reading about human origins from the perspective of an expert, they found problems and advances that were not reaching the mainstream science press.
I’ve been so pleased over the years to see my professional colleagues engaging with these issues. Often scientists have found my work to help them make connections outside their immediate research area. In some cases these connections have helped shed light on mysterious parts of the human evolutionary story. But I’m even more happy to see students progressing into the field, and interested people of all ages finding new ways to connect to their heritage.
I do not make any money from writing this site. I write to explore what we know and what we don’t know about the past. I always am honest when I am reviewing new work, and that often means being critical. But even more often, I write to share the interest and excitement of seeing new information, new ways of looking at data, and new discoveries.
I don’t keep a regular schedule. Years ago, when I started blogging, I promised myself that I would never continue writing if it felt like a chore. There have been many times over the past few years that my work has required pretty intense concentration and time away from my family. At those times, I tend not to update the blog very often. If you’re a regular reader, I’m sure you’ll understand. And if you’re visiting for the first time, I hope you’ll take some time to explore.
Unlike many weblogs, I’ve never had a comments section here. Sometimes people ask me why I don’t have comments. I don’t have anything against them. I get quite a bit of pleasure out of reading comments threads on other blogs. I like a good flamewar as much as anyone else. But I really don’t have time to administer comments in the way I would need to, and I definitely don’t have time to be an active participant. So that takes away a lot of the interest—if I spent a lot of time moderating a comment thread, it would distract me from what I do well.
Still, this isn’t a one-way conversation. I link to and respond to other blogs, and include links to a number of newsgroups. If you are reading here and are inspired to write something, maybe you should consider starting your own site! It doesn’t take a large investment of time, and it can be much more rewarding than being hidden in somebody’s comments.
Or send me an e-mail. It’s not so hard to find, and I really do reply most of the time. One of my regular correspondents complains that I never write back to him directly; I always reply in the form of a blog post. I always warn people that I teach several hundred students in an average semester, who have my e-mail priority, but I write back to almost everyone who writes me – especially if it’s interesting!