My colleagues have already provided very nice introductions to this space, but here’s one more. I’ve been a regular web geek basically since physicists first started
the internets. I’ve also been a political news junkie for as long as I can remember, and have been a blog reader since the early days. It remains to be seen whether I’ll have something interesting to contribute here, but these times seem to require comment and engagement.
Like many scientists, I am extremely concerned about the increasing politicization of science. And, more generally, about what seems like not only an attack on science (from Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me this morning:
“I’m a teacher of high-school science” “Is that still allowed these days?”), but on rationality and critical thinking in general. Perhaps, it was ever thus. But, I have been continuously amazed in the past few years both by the increasing power of voices that seem to want to take America to its mythical pre-Enlightenment days, and by how facts themselves seem ever more distorted by political and clerical spin.
So, while I certainly agree with Sean’s visceral distaste of the idea of some monolithic “natural scientist’s perspective” on the world, and with Clifford’s hesitation about the proclivities of physicists to say something about everything, I do think science as a framework has a lot to contribute in combating the belief-based fact-making of these times. And apparently, though, even though 44 percent of Americans think the world was
created in six days, they still have a lot of respect for scientists,
especially astronomers and physicists. So perhaps at least a few people will actually care about what this motley crew of us has to say about the world (well, at least after they read all the blogs by database administrators).
My primary hesitation about starting a blog of my own was the time issue, since I’m already way too overcommitted and one really has to post on a pretty regular basis to develop any kind of audience. Plus, as
I was warned this week in particular, this whole blogging thing is clearly
a very bad idea for someone on the job market. But luckily for you, dear reader, I just can’t help myself (you can ask me in 8 or 10 months how lucky it was for me). The group blog thing (and Sean’s sweet talking, of course) brought me over the edge: hopefully it will be all the fun and only 1/5 of the work and accountability!
Like Clifford, I think there is value in having people know that physicists aren’t all like
these guys, both to science itself and because hopefully
that makes science more accessible (as both a career choice and as a method of thinking). I love what I do for the science itself, but this feeling is one reason that makes me feel like what I do is actually important. Hopefully this blog will make at least a small contribution in that regard.
But don’t worry, this won’t all be science and politics all the time. I don’t have anything insightful to say about Brad and Angelina at the moment, but I will likely subject you to my ramblings on burritos and cheese and sushi, mountains and cities and oceans, gadget lust and music and mac advice, and other assorted uselessness. Anyways, I’m delighted to be doing so with such a charming and renowned group of folks. Welcome, and thanks for reading.