What are Science Blogs good for, anyway?

There have been several posts on this over the past weekend (while I was off the planet, I don’t generally do a lot of blogging over the weekend), on what exactly science blogs are good for.  Science after Sunclipse started it (and Swans on Tea agreed), with a post about how you cannot get a science education from reading science blogs.  And he’s right, you can’t get a full education.  Laelaps continues the argument, noting that most science bloggers (myself excluded, I suppose), really don’t like posting “basic” posts for people with less science education.  I actually do like posting basics posts, though he’s very right, they are long and difficult to make, and sometimes I feel like ya’ll would get a better education out of wikipedia.  And for most sicence bloggers, basics articles are a waste of time, they are far more excited about covering the latest in their field, the latest opinions on the great controversies, etc.  I understand where they’re coming from, I write basic articles, but at the same time it’s much easier for me to get excited about the latest stuff coming out (or the classic science, I admit I’m a sucker for those articles from the 1880’s). 

That said, I like the response over at Uncertain Principles.  Science blogs in general (and I hope mine does this, too), give readers a sense of excitement about science, and share what it is that keeps us coming to work every day.  Also, Prof Orzel points out that science blogs show the human side of scientists, the side outside the labcoats, glasses, and pipetmen.  I don’t know how well my blog personally does that one, but I hope I can at least share the excitement of science. 

Finally, I hope that science blogs can show that what we do is not quite so freakin’ hard as everyone outside of science seems to think.  It’s frustrating, it’s plenty challenging, and sure, in some cases, it IS rocket science (or in my case, yes, it IS brain surgery), but it’s not impossible.  Scientists are not brainy gods (though sometimes I wish I was) doing things beyond the comprehension of anyone else.  I think that the idea that science is over people’s heads is one of the problems that modern science is facing today.  People fear what they don’t understand, and they worry that they can’t understand science. 

I hope that science blogs will help people understand that we are people, too, and that we have jobs that, though they are full of excitement and discovery and cool stuff, are also full of politics, anxiety, and all the job problems that everyone else is plagued with.   And maybe learning that we are real people with real jobs will get people a little more enthusiastic about what we’re doing every day. 

4 Responses

  1. I added more to the pot a little later, too. As i said somewhere in there, if you can get people enthused about science, even if that wasn’t your primary goal, it’s a good thing.

  2. It doesn’t help that there are scientists who want to talk over the public’s head, to fulfill some weird ‘holier than thou’ complex.

    Blogs have great potential to communicate and to educate… we just have to let them.

  3. […] has opined elaborately what science blogs can’t do and PZ Myers, Chad, Brian, swansontea, SciCurious have written their views with some good […]

  4. […] has opined elaborately what science blogs can’t do and PZ Myers, Chad, Brian, swansontea, SciCurious have written their views with some good […]

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