Robert Wright Speaks…

By Carl Zimmer | September 5, 2009 10:15 pm

…about the recent goings-on at Bloggingheads. If you don’t want to listen to an hour and 15 minutes of discussion about how a couple of creationists ended up on Wright’s site, he has also distilled his comments in writing, here in a discussion forum.

I deeply appreciate all the comments and emails people sent to ask me to reconsider my decision to part ways wit Bloggingheads. But it’s not as if I’ll be vanishing from sight. In fact, I plan to explore new ways to write and talk about science (details to come).

We writers don’t disappear so easily.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Meta

Comments (9)

  1. “…depicting them in a way that would make them seem more acceptable to their intellectual opponents. …” Why?

  2. johnk

    Although bloggingheads is an interesting use of technology, I don’t understand why it is in such a privileged position. For example, it frequently has a prominent location on the (internet) opinion page of the NY Times, where it appears to be a Times’ sponsored discussion — clicking the link doesn’t bring you to the bloggingheads site, it starts the diavlog.

    From what I can gather Robert Wright has complete editorial control. Although, as he writes in the above link, he has published well-articulated critiques of creationism, his recent work (‘the evolution of god’) is not science and seems remarkably mushy. Putting “evolution” in the title is suspect.

    Seems like its time for more diversity in this new medium.

  3. As Sean Carroll said, “it’s a big internet.” Nevertheless Bloggingheads is a unique forum, and two glaring fuckups notwithstanding, generally provides a first class forum for conversations of considerable depth. Carl has been a first rate contributor and a significant factor contributing to the high quality of the forum. A lot of us first became aware of Carl and his output there. I’d have been quite a bit less likely to have read Microcosm and Parasite Rex had he never appeared. (I can’t plug those books enough – Microcosm is a particular favorite.)

    I hope those of us who would like to see it happen can change Carl’s mind. Come back, Carl!

  4. Gaythia

    I am not in favor of efforts to change Carl Zimmer’s mind (which is probably beyond our efforts of control anyhow).

    Science is not science without integrity.
    Carl Zimmer demonstrates his own integrity by his actions in this matter.

    I would hope that this would increase confidence in the veracity of his books, and thus increase book sales. We need honest and accurate interpreters of scientific information. I’m glad that he will search for other venues for his work.

  5. Count me among those who wish Carl would reconsider. I explain why here:
    http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2009/09/03/confronting-anti-science-views/

    Isn’t Carl’s decision akin to Mooney’s explanation for why he left Scienceblogs (partly because he didn’t want to share the same web platform with PZ Myers)? Wouldn’t such logic lead one also to disavow writing op-eds for the Washington Post, since it might appear next to a George Will column on global warming?

    If Blogging Heads is, on balance, a place where stimulating, well-argued debate takes place, shouldn’t that count for something?

  6. mk

    I don’t think it is the same, Keith.

    To me the same would be if the Washington Post had a Science section and had asked Carl and others (science writers and scientists who write) to contribute periodically. And after some time the contributors suddenly noticed YEC and ID people spewing their silliness in that same Science section.

  7. AdamK

    I disagree with those who are asking you to reconsider. I think you made a pricipled decision.

    I hope you find better uses for your time and energy. The quality of bloggingheads has been dropping lately. I used to look at the site frequently, and be sure that I’d find at least moderately interesting material. Now it seems to be day after day of windbaggery. The right-wing kooks and templetonian doublespeakers have become regulars and the reality-based intellectuals have moved on. And there’s only so much folksy George-and-John back-fence chitchat any one person can take in a lifetime. “It’s hot here in New Mexico.” “Yeah? Whaddaya know, it’s hot here in New Jersey, too.” “Wonder if it has anything to do with summer?” “Could be.”

  8. osmium

    I second fully the post of AemJeff. I am on a constant hectic rotating schedule trying to read the books of all the people I see on BhTV. It is a valuable and unique forum, and I hope you come back soon, Carl.

  9. For example, it frequently has a prominent location on the (internet) opinion page of the NY Times, where it appears to be a Times’ sponsored discussion — clicking the link doesn’t bring you to the bloggingheads site, it starts the diavlog.

    The times that I’ve watched diavlogs on NYT, the embedded video only played part of the diavlog, and if you wanted to watch the whole thing (for example, if you found the snippet really interesting and wanted to see more), then you had to go to Bh.TV

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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

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