Top 100 Cutting-Edge Science Blogs

Groucho Marx once said he wouldn’t belong to a group  with standards low enough to include him. I know what he meant.

The US website X-Ray Technician Schools has produced a list of the Top 100 Cutting-Edge Science Blogs. Despite Groucho’s comment I am honoured that they have included Open Parachute.

They acknowledge: “While our methodology, personal opinion, is subject to criticism, we have provided what we believe to be the 100 “best of the best” or at a minimum a really good place to begin your own exploration of the science blogosphere.”

I agree. In my view there are some significant omissions (how could they miss Phalyngula) but it’s a good place to start for anyone looking for science blogs.

Update: Peter Griffin, director of New Zealand’s  Science Media Centre offers the Centre’s help for scientists wanting to get into blogging (see his comment on Science blogging in New Zealand). He is interested in hearing (04 499 5476 smc@sciencemediacentre.co.nz) from any interested scientist.

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33 responses to “Top 100 Cutting-Edge Science Blogs

  1. Congratulations, Ken! A well-deserved honor, imo!

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  2. Yes, well done, Ken!

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  3. Ken, good job. I would expect the reason they didn’t include Phalyngula would be that it has just a bit too much raving and frothing interspersed with the science. They’re probably wanting blogs which are a bit more professional, and a bit less high-profile forums for anti-religious hate speech. Myers just comes across…well, I would use the phrase “as an unstable lunatic”; others might say “a bit strong”. You have to look at the whole image of a blog if you’re going to list it in a top-100.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  4. The list may have steered away from controversy. Yet Nature (top 50 science blogs) puts Pharyngula at the top of their list.

    Myers does communicate some excellent science through his blog – but controversy (and many will say strong principle – I certainly appreciate his calling a spade a spade) is what has drawn readers to it and made it so popular.

    I think this issue will have to be confronted as science blogging gets off the ground in New Zealand. ‘Professional’ (in the bad sense of the word) blogs may be so wimpish as to be useless.

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  5. Congrats Ken. :)

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  6. Ken, I think it’s possible to be professional without being a wrist-flopping nancy. One can call a spade a spade without deliberately trying to incite antagonism by being an obnoxious jerk.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  7. to blog is a good idea

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  8. My definition of “professional” includes not getting pushed around by wackoes, lunatics, people with a grudge, and other creationists. It’s not professional to allow science to be misrepresented.

    Missing Pharyngula must have been mere oversight.

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  9. Nope, not oversight. They include Telic Thoughts, which is more rant than Pharyngula, just on the opposite side.

    In fact, the list is remarkably weak in biology. Most major biology blogs simply are not listed. No Loom. No Pharyngula. No Laelaps. Medical blogs? Kinda missing.

    No Pump Handle. Think of a major biology blog — it’s probably missing. But there are two intelligent design blogs.

    Either very sloppy editing, or bias.

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  10. Dominic – your labelling Myers articles as “trying to incite antagonism” reminds me of this cartoon on lack of respect. Some relgious people demand respect, freedom from criticism, and then use this special protection to mount attacks on others. That’s hardly adult behaviour.

    Myers has been attacked for exposing the film expelled – even for ‘gate crashing’ a showing of the film. Yet, he was unjustly expelled from the showing by one of the producers. Myers gets accused of inciting this expulsion!

    Myers has been attacked for exposing the treatment (death threats, attempts to expel him from university, etc.) of the Florida student who left a Catholic church service with a wafer. He pointed out how ridiculous this was, and that the claims for the wafer were also ridiculous. So then his life is threatened – and Myers gets blamed!

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali is attacked for producing a film about the treatment of muslim women in Europe. Her director is assasinated. And Ali and similar critics of religous atrocities are blamed for the strife!

    Salman Rushdie gets blamed for the violence agaisnt him because of a book he wrote!

    Danish cartoonists get blamed for religious violence by bigots who don’t like the cartoons!

    And we could go on. The real cause of the violence is ignored. “Inciting antagonism” – it’s like claiming that women who speak out against rape are actually causing the rape.

    It’s about time these religionists grew up and recognised that no one has the right to demand that their beliefs, ridiculous claims or extreme criticism of others, are themselves immune from criticism.

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  11. Ken, I’m not excusing the actions of anyone. But Myers is undeniably very childish. He loves to wind people up. There’s a distinction between criticism and mocking, and between mocking and deliberately desecrating things which you know other people consider very sacred. It’s one thing to think it’s stupid to believe that a wafer is sacred. It’s another to incite acts of religious vandalism, and deliberately desecrate said wafer as a sign of your contempt for that belief. Surely you aren’t defending Myers’ actions in this instance?

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  12. Yes, Ed. I was afraid that Groucho had a point here.

    I am amazed that ID sites are included in a list of science blogs – political or religious, perhaps. But not science.

    Perhaps it was a committee decision.

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  13. Maybe it’s a downunder bias. Your blog is on the list. That’s a good sign.

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  14. “There’s a distinction between criticism and mocking, and between mocking and deliberately desecrating things which you know other people consider very sacred.”

    Fortunatly, Bnonn, you have discovered a tactic to get around that.

    You like to keep it vague and try not to upset people even if that means that friends of yours and fellow Christians stay ignorant about science.
    If the going gets tough on a scientific question then…you quietly disappear.

    Remember this?

    “I am not necessarily defending Admin’s specific claims.”

    “I do not think ID is a scientific theory, in the sense generally meant (perhaps Admin means something else).”

    “In principle there is nothing unscientific about ID.”

    http://christiannews.co.nz/2008/id/#comments

    Let’s pick up our conversation where we left off…

    Care to demonstrate how ID is a valid scientific hypothesis now?
    Or do you need more time?

    Did you try to explain to your friend Admin that he was dead wrong about ID being a scientific theory (the phrase “in principle” not withstanding) or were you content to leave him ignorant?
    How do you feel about Admin believing that the Earth is 6000 or so years old?
    Does it bother you?

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  15. Ken: Well done. And great cartoon in post ten! :-)

    DBT:

    I’d be wary of your own bias in making out that someone is deliberately trying to antognise. PZ certainly has his “pitch” (!), but I think you’re turning it around a bit too far. PZ’s main audience isn’t religious people, which I think is clear in his posts.

    To make my position clear to other readers here (in case peple think I’m blindly supporting PZ), I prefer a different approach to PZ on these sorts of things, but I can see where he’s coming from. I’ve said to others well before “crackergate” that I’m not really keen on a “bashing” approach as its too easily misread as attacking people rather than the beliefs or whatnot they hold. The actual points he makes–not how they are made–are generally good, though. His account of how the crackers came to be used by the Catholic Church was interesting, and I think, quite revealing.

    Incidently, I tried to write a post addressing a claim made by the CNA (one of the key Catholic groups complaining about this) that freedom of speech protected them from this sort of “attack”. I tried to write a very polite piece saying that I though that the freedom of speech was to protect people’s right to speak out against things, not to restrict their ability to speak, and the the usual common-sense line was drawn at threatening or attacking the person or their property. I didn’t go on an say “that’s what your followers are doing”, but admittedly hoped that the more astute readers might see that for themselves. It was a very polite post trying to address a relevant issue and… they censored it!

    It seems to me that if these people weren’t even going to listen to someone who said that they had no interest in either side, trying their level best to politely address an issue–how were they going to see their own faults?

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  16. Cedric, am I my brother’s keeper? I trust my friends to read my comments and take them on board; I don’t need to publicly try to correct them on these sorts of issues. You’ll see the same approach in my discussions with Darryl Burling about apologetics and evangelism, for example.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  17. “I don’t need to publicly try to correct them on these sorts of issues.”

    How about privately?

    People like Admin are horribly wrong about science.
    You claim to be a friend of his.

    Does a good friend let a friend wallow in ignorance.
    Does he allow that friend to mislead others and bear false witness?
    Doesn’t it bother you?
    The whole 6000 years thingy?
    Making Christians look like morons?

    You know that he won’t listen to Ken or myself. He just quietly deletes our comments.
    You, however, are in a unique position.
    You could maybe reach him and get him to stop his foolishness.
    He can’t very well put you in the camp of the legions of Satan, right?

    How is ID a scientific hypothesis? Please give some basic details.
    You just waved your hands aimlessly last time.

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  18. Strange Cedric; I don’t remember hand-waving. I thought I specifically said that ID was an hypothesis in the sense that it is a potentially falsifiable idea; but not a theory, because as far as I know no one has proposed any specific experimental means of falsifying it. Why would I need to say this to Admin privately when I have already affirmed it publicly?

    As regards the age of the earth, since I currently agree with him on this, I’m obviously not going to correct him.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  19. Heraclides, I understand your comment: “I prefer a different approach to PZ on these sorts of things, but I can see where he’s coming from.”.

    I find, myself, that I can’t agree completely with any one persons approach to issues like this. For example, I listen to the Lawrence Krauss/Richard Dawkins discussions and realise that both sides have good points. I personally would choose one or another tactic on specific issues but wouldn’t model myself on either of them (or anyone else).

    Consequently I think each proponent has a role. Krauss uses ‘seduction’ (I like to see this as searching for points of unity with people of other beliefs – something we should do a lot more of) while Dawkins is very big on consciousness raising (I think that is essential).

    I guess Myers is not going to convert many fundamentalist Catholics, but he has done (and is doing) a lot to raise the consciousness of non-theists. Both Myers and Dawkins are doing a lot to help non-theists to be more assertive about their political rights, and legitimacy of their ideas. These are important parts, but not the only parts, of improving human rights and real freedom of religion and belief.

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  20. Dominic:

    If a hypothesis isn’t falsifiable to start with, there is no “specific experimental means of falsifying it” either.

    I believe ID isn’t falsifiable, as are most things that come down to “a mythical thing did it”. (You can show that there are alternative explanations that don’t need the “mythical thing”, but that’s not formally disproving “a mythical thing did it”. I gather some people think otherwise, but I’ve yet to see a concise argument explaining why it should be falsifiable that makes sense.)

    A reason that “no one has proposed any specific experimental means of falsifying it [ID]”, is that no-one can, because the idea isn’t falsifiable to start with.

    As for a “young earth”: that’s falsifiable and has been shown to be false for a good while now ;-)

    (Excuse my use of the “mythical thing”, but I’m trying to capture all the many G-ds, beasts ascribed with various powers, “earth power”, etc., in one phrase. Use ‘abstract’ for ‘mythical’, as in “existing only in thought, not in physical or concrete existence”, if it suits readers’ better. I prefer mythical–at the moment anyway–as it captures the stories as well, which ‘abstract’ doesn’t.)

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  21. Ken:

    “Consequently I think each proponent has a role.”

    That’s my general view too. Several people have pointed out that by pushing the envelope a little, these people make the moderate “that’s not right” stances easier to accept. (The name of the concept is slipping my mind at the moment, sod it.)

    You’re right about the “consciousness raising” point—they get people to at least think about the things, rather than have this rather naïve view of religions as innocent sweetness as long as it doesn’t “affect” others (this always strikes me as a view taught to children, carried over to adulthood; it also “wishes it away”, too).

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  22. “…ID was an hypothesis in the sense that it is a potentially falsifiable idea.”

    Yet you have no idea how to falsify it. So your claim that ID is a hypothesis falls rather flat.
    If it isn’t falsifiable…then it isn’t falsifiable.
    Invoking “potentially” or “in principle” doesn’t save you.

    ID is not a theory. ID is not a hypothesis.
    ID is just empty talk.

    “As regards the age of the earth, since I currently agree with him on this, I’m obviously not going to correct him.”

    Oh, you’re a YEC too? Oh dear. :)

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  23. Dominic – re your claim: “ID was an hypothesis in the sense that it is a potentially falsifiable idea”.

    I have read many articles/books by ID theorists. Listened to quite a few podcasts from the Discovery Institute. And, you know. I have come across a lot of criticisms of scientists, the scientific methods and scientific theory. But I have not yet seen/heard a specific ID hypothesis. Vague ideas, perhaps, but no specific hypothesis. ID theorists sometimes admit to there not being a hypothesis (strange that they should then demand teaching ID in science classes).

    Perhaps you could help us out since you claim that there is a “potentially falsifiable idea” there.

    Give us, briefly, this ID hypothesis. And explain why it has not been tested or otherwise experientially validated.

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  24. Gentlemen, as I have said in the past, I am not a scientist. Neither am I (currently) a supporter of ID as a scientific theory. So I am not qualified to give you a technical theory that can be falsified. I have simply said that the hypothesis that life, the universe, and everything is designed is one which could potentially be falsified. There are existing ways in which we test for design in certain areas. I don’t see any particular reason that these could not be extended to other areas of nature. For example, one might apply similar sorts of principles to some aspect of nature as one applies in cryptography to determine whether a signal is coded information, or just noise. I’m sure you, with your scientific minds, can think of much better examples than I. It’s a bit silly to say that the hypothesis isn’t falsifiable in principle when there are obvious ways one might go about testing it.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  25. DBT:

    “I have simply said that the hypothesis that life, the universe, and everything is designed is one which could potentially be falsified.” In other words, you’re not really saying anything at all. Either say it one way or other or otherwise you’re not saying anything.

    “There are existing ways in which we test for design in certain areas.” Firstly: we test? Earlier in your post you excused yourself from it all, now using “we”, you include yourself? Which is it? (I’m picking the latter.) Secondly: no-one I’ve seen actually tests “design” and not surprisingly: try laying down a falsifiable hypothesis to test this and you’d quickly see why… (On which note I’d be interested to see you reply to Ken: he’s got a good point about not presenting a testable hypothesis.)

    What in practice I’ve seen happen is that “they” either nitpick what they insist is “the opposition” (ignoring that scientists aren’t doing their work to “oppose” creationism/ID) or “they” create–pun intended–pseudo-science arguments, largely through obfuscation or leaving out key components.

    “It’s a bit silly to say that the hypothesis isn’t falsifiable in principle when there are obvious ways one might go about testing it.” No, its not silly if it can’t be done. (I note you’re using “in principle” to hedge again. Either it is, or it isn’t.) Show me how if something that doesn’t exist is proposed to cause something, its falsifiable, given there is nothing concrete to falsify if the original something doesn’t exist.

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  26. Dominic – do you realise what you are saying? “I have simply said that the hypothesis that life, the universe, and everything is designed is one which could potentially be falsified.” This says that the hypothesis of a designer, a god, could potentially be falsified! A claim theists usually keep well clear of.

    Your concept of “design testing” is really just Bill Dembski’s “design filter”. He may try to confuse people with mathematical presentation but it’s easily seen to be logically false (see Dembski, peer review and supernova).

    This whole issue of design is not new to science. We can recognise design everywhere – and understand its underlying causes. We can investigate and understand the underlying causes of, for example, the exquisite design of crystals. Scientists investigate this sort of design all the time – and get to understand the causes of this design, The don’t have to resort to a “god did it” explanation. Design has a cause (maybe even a completely random cause) – but doesn’t require a ‘designer’.

    But ‘design’ as a cause itself (ID) has been tested and shown to be inappropriate in specific situations. After all – the design of “special creation” just couldn’t stand up to the overwhelming evidence for natural selection advanced by Darwin. Darwin himself pointed out that the specific hypothesis of “special creation” was just childish magic. As he said – did the creationists “really believe that at innumerable periods in the earth’s history certain elemental atoms have been commanded suddenly to flash into living tissue?”

    Why should anyone stick with magical explanations having no predictive (or truly explanatory) power when the alternative is so fruitful?

    This is the problem, isn’t it. Any specific ID hypothesis would have to include a childish concept of magical ‘special creation’ – things being flashed into existence.

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  27. “…things being flashed into existence.”

    (awkward silence)

    Careful guys, I can feel another “in principle blah, blah…” or “potentially blah,blah…” type comment coming on.

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  28. Hmm. Start with “my blog hit the top 50″ and end up with ID… “Whatever.”

    Since we’re well off-topic, chasing down a link from a science blog I read I get this page: http://www.hcdi.net/polls/J5776/

    While polls are hopeless, as we all know, it fun to look at. The group most “with” evolution after atheists are Jewish. Go, Jewish!!

    The most strongly with “ID”, ahead of Protestants, are Muslims. (Its possible that, aside from the smaller number polling, there are fewer “moderate” Muslim represented. I did say polls are hopeless…)

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  29. The Intelligent Designers have been trying to get into bed with Muslism fundamentalists for years.
    They’re quite shameless about it.

    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/07/rumbles-on-the.html

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  30. The Intelligent Designers have been trying to get into bed with Muslism fundamentalists for years.

    Not just to stay warm, either. Both of those parties ought to wake up.

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  31. RaiulBaztepo

    Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

    Like

  32. Hi Raiul
    Good to meet you :-) I hope you’ll keep coming back & that you enjoy Ken’s blog as much as the rest of us ‘regulars’.
    Alison

    Like

  33. mm… bookmarked..

    Like

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