That Amazing, Unstoppable BP Container Cap Post

By Chris Mooney | July 22, 2010 5:42 pm

Well, Darlene’s last guest post went stratospheric on Digg, and we are still reeling from the traffic. For some strange reason–having to do with the bizarre combination of “Tom Johnson,” a list of “sexy” scientists, and now this–this July we are on track to break our all time traffic record from precisely a year ago, when everybody was debating Unscientific America.

Thanks, Darlene. Or, to paraphrase the original title of your post:

“Who gets the credit for the BP Container Cap post? Darlene Does.”


Comments (5)

  1. Jon

    Is it really true that PZ Myers is responsible for 40% of Sciblog traffic? Get to it Chris, start publishing some rants.

  2. Jon Says:

    “Is it really true that PZ Myers is responsible for 40% of Sciblog traffic? Get to it Chris, start publishing some rants.”


    For all the online fuss and flamefests, Kirshenbaum and Mooney are accomplishing far more than the flamefreaks in any real way; out there in practical workshops for scientists, out there in public, in the newspaper and book world, out there at science conferences. Accomplishing concrete things, initially in the way of publicising climate science (Storm World), the often tense relationship between science and politics, and the need for scientists to communicate better (and how to do it), and then much more. Moreover, they get that message out into the wider reading and activist public, not just among a segment of those online with time on their hands.

    It looks to me like there’s often a widespread myth that being talked about must mean something real and big; people like to gossip, and Michael Jackson still gets huge press long after his death, without it meaning anything at all. World of Warcraft beats Myers hollow.

    But Kirshenbaum and Mooney get people to change their behaviour for the better, publicise the ways and materials of how to get over their own science-related messages better, and so on. Part of the charm of the Intersection blog has always been its utter unpredictability; you never quite now what will get blogged on next, and it’s mostly pretty interesting stuff.

    So, while acknowledging more traffic is better, and the big increase in traffic is definitely something to congratulate the Intersection on, this is a plea for few rants and for keeping the Intersection as it pretty much is already.

    The rants can stay mostly the province of the narcissists addicted to self-righteous but useless and incorrect anger; for all the fuss, they have nothing to show for themselves at the end of the day.

  3. Guy

    There is this sort of “sport and spectacle” type of thing that attracts a lot of people to Pharyngula.

    Apparently, well-written rants─especially on controversial topics─are the main drivers of ad revenue for blogs.

  4. Jon

    For years, the right has known that the culture war sells, gets eyeballs, and excites the footsoldiers and the donor class, despite its obvious psuedo-populist distortions of reality. It’s a deliberate distraction from real policy solutions and the public conversation needed to implement them.

    I don’t want to claim there’s an equivalence. They’re far from equivalent. The two sides are quite asymmetrical, in fact. But culture warriors like PZ Myers *also* distort in a psuedo-populist way–distorting what should be a healthy debate about the nature of religion and science, often fomenting misunderstanding. I don’t think it’s deliberate, but it’s *also* a potential distraction from the science-based policy solutions and the public conversation needed to implement them.

    It gets plenty of eyeballs, but at what expense?


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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