ScienceBlogling Chris, responding to comments on a post he wrote about what he views as misplaced blogging priorities, writes:
….we can talk about what I do outside of the blogosphere to promote the non-scientific causes that are important to me. And cutting off your response before it ushers from your snarky fingers, a person who writes 9-10 rants a day on their blog, often responding to long articles elsewhere in cyberspace, and who has a day job (especially one in academia) is not, I guarantee you, doing a damn thing offline to promote any of the causes I mentioned or any like them. Through the blog, they may be asked to speak here and there about the very issues I’m saying are non-issues, but that doesn’t help. They’re wasting their energy, and it’s a shame, because some of them are rather smart, even if their readers are idiots.
Personally, I think defending evolution is worthwhile, given its importance to public health. All we need is the creationist equivalent of the NASA political commissariat, and things could get really screwed up. But Chris does have an interesting point.
*YAWN* Just another concern troll preaching to those who don’t share his ideas that they’re wasting their efforts. Boring.
Thanks Tyler, for your psychoanalysis.
Mike, I think defending evolution is important too. It’s as important as defending any other foundational idea in science, which is to say, it’s important that people understand and believe its implications for their lives, even if they don’t buy it in full. But, do you think blogging about it has an effect? And in particular, do you think obsessions with Ken Ham, Hovind’s legal troubles, the latest nonsense from Bill “I noe more maf dan u” Dembski on his blog, and all of the other things of that sort that dominate anti-creationist blogging, with virtually no factual discussion of evolution, or even discussion of its social, moral, and philosophical implications (those are, after all, the things that people are really worried about), has an effect?
I’m all for defending evolution. Make as much information as you can available to the public — through the normal education channels, sites like talk.origins, and so on — and defend evolution in the courts and on the political stage when necessary. But writing blogs with dozens of posts a week that are written for the echo chamber, that are preaching to the choir, does nothing. Actually, that’s not true. It does something. It takes up the time of people who could otherwise be dealing with much more important matters. And it says to the creationists, who without you would have a very, very small stage indeed, but with you, have a very large one anytime they want to use it, “We think what you’re saying is worth talking about. In fact, we’re so threatened by it that we have to spend many hours a day obsessing over it on our blogs.”
Yes Chris, because no one should be wasting their time blogging about a 27 million dollar “museum” that “teaches” its patrons that dinosaurs were domesticated by humans. Why waste time with that, when obviously the MSM will duly inform the public about the truth, we can surely count on those guys can’t we?!
And remind me again how many in the US accept evolution? I’m sure if we just ignore the creationists, the US will just overwhelmingly accept evolution, in fact I’m sure the only reason that so many people in this country claim to doubt Evolution is just to spite those who say mean things about Christians and or Creationists.
In fact, I’m sure if all bloggers just tried to teach science instead of talking negatively about religion, the country would embrace the facts about evolution, global warming, abortion rights, gay rights, etc and everyone would just go about practicing their chosen religion in the privacy of their own home, and leave it out of their politics.
“But, do you think blogging about it has an effect?”
Yes, blogging about it does have an effect. Science oriented blogs and other internet venues are often the only reliable place to get information on evolution that counters creationist lies, not to mention can quickly demolish some bogus claim from a creationist organization before it gets parrotted through the media (think the Disco Inst. “study” of Judge Jones decision in Dover).
What you’re saying about our “obsession” over Ken Ham, Dembski, etc. is the exact same argument used against blogs in general by their detractors. How many times have we heard about the “vicious” and “vitriolic” liberal blogosphere with regard to figures like Dobson on the religious right and Charles Krauthammer among the neocons? Those people, just like the creationists, are people who make their living distorting and lying to advance an agenda, and having a blogosphere to call them out on it is certainly valuable. Blogs are really the only medium through which such ideas can be expressed by people normally shut out of mainstream media discourse. You may disagree with some of these ideas, but it’s not as if blogging about it does nothing.
Molkien, I disagree, and pace Tyler, I don’t think there’s been any effect.
Let me qualify that. I think Panda’s Thumb is a good thing. It’s a way to organize people across the country who are fighting the battle in effective ways (through education, through the legal system, through political activism). That’s a good thing. Granted, I don’t think the evolution-creationism debate is terribly important, as political issues go. In fact, I think it’s largely, if not purely, a distracter issue, mostly at the local and state levels. Still, I think it’s important to protect schools from religious influence and from people who would attempt to undermine important areas of education for whatever purpose, and as far as the internet goes, I think talk.origins and Panda’s Thumb have been good resources (I read the latter only for its biology posts, but that’s beside the point).
If that’s what other blogs were doing, I’d be all for it. I’ve written several times on my blog that I think that two of the primary purposes of science blogs should be organization (between experts) and education (to non-experts). But there’s a trend, and a strong one — in fact, an enveloping one — for the science blogs that are concerned primarily with anti-creationism to get away from education altogether. Instead, anti-creationism blogging is largely a series of invectives and obsessive inquiries into what creationists are doing now (whether they’re going to jail, starting museums that no one who’s not already a creationist will attend, or just writing stupid articles that no one who’s not already a creationist will read). At best, this is purely masturbatory. At worst, it just extends the platform and exposure of creationists. It’s legitimizing for them in many ways.
The worst offender, who I won’t mention by name, but I suspect you know who I’m talking about, writes literally about 5 posts a day on the topic, with little or no scientific content. And it’s such a shame, because with the traffic he has, he has a platform that could be used so much more effectively.
Anyway, to you or to anyone who thinks that the sort of anti-creationist blogging I’m talking about has had an effect in any way positive to the cause of science, I ask only that you provide some evidence. Show me the data. What has it done? Where is the benefit?
“Anyway, to you or to anyone who thinks that the sort of anti-creationist blogging I’m talking about has had an effect in any way positive to the cause of science, I ask only that you provide some evidence. Show me the data. What has it done? Where is the benefit?”
Where’s the data that shows the benefit of having any blog? Isn’t having a venue for conversation valuable in and of itself?
Do you think he has as much traffic specifically because, oh I dunno, he posts all the anti-creationist stuff that he does. I can’t speak for him, or the rest of his audience, but I come to this site (Sciblogs) because of his daily posts that focus on the anti-creationist stuff. I like the science stuff too, but some of it can go over my head at times (I’m just a lowly artist who attempts to keep up with some science stuff). And because he posts so often I can come back a couple times a day and usually catch a new post. And while I am there I can go view some of the other fine blogs here.
I could go into a more detailed description of my personal views and explain why such discussions are beneficial in a society where the majority doesn’t believe in evolution and alot of atheists would rather stay in the closet so to speak. But no ones minds are going to be changed here. In fact, I’m just preaching to the anti-choir.
I enjoy the creationist/evolution stuff as a laugh and don’t really take it seriously. I live in Sweden and so its not a big issue over here but we can still laugh at you lot !
As for the creationism museum I actually think its a good thing.
They were hardly going to spend the 27 million on science, were they ?
I somehow doubt that a budding young Richard Dawkins is going to go there and decide to become a Kent Hovind instead.
As it is it will end up as a monument to mythology and its good that they paid for it themselves!
I’ve written several times on my blog that I think that two of the primary purposes of science blogs should be organization (between experts) and education (to non-experts). But there’s a trend, and a strong one — in fact, an enveloping one — for the science blogs that are concerned primarily with anti-creationism to get away from education altogether. Instead, anti-creationism blogging is largely a series of invectives and obsessive inquiries into what creationists are doing now (whether they’re going to jail, starting museums that no one who’s not already a creationist will attend, or just writing stupid articles that no one who’s not already a creationist will read). At best, this is purely masturbatory. At worst, it just extends the platform and exposure of creationists. It’s legitimizing for them in many ways.
Many of my anti-creationist post are used as a springboard to talk about science (i.e., “Creationists are morons because…”). I do think the value of the blogosphere is overrated, except as a organizing/information exchange tool. I’m also under no illusions that I have had a major, or even a minor, effect on political or scientific debate in the U.S. which is why I don’t post many times per day (if I can manage two posts daily, one of which is usually a ‘short’ one that I don’t have to spend a lot of time writing, it’s a good blogging day). And I’m pretty bad at responding to comments because I’m busy doing more ‘useful’ things. I have wondered what kind of sitehits I would get if I were to blog full tilt for a couple of weeks.
Ultimately, it comes down to why I blog. One reason–and keep in mind that this blog originally was a political blog–is as an act of resistance: at the very least, I did not keep quiet while I saw my country taken over by fools and madmen. If I influence one person, or give one person a useful argument, then, for me, it hasn’t been useless because, as I’ve written on this blog, I’m tired of being forced to consume others’ opinions. I would prefer to voice my own.
Truthfully though, life’s too short to spend online for hours.
One more thing: don’t underestimate the importance of ‘reinforcing’ the like-minded. It’s a crucial component of movement building (including within science).