Visiting the Nat Geo Overlords

Chris and I have met with our new National Geographic overlords here in DC, and we had a productive and interesting meeting. It was a great chance to put names to some faces and hear about where Nat Geo wants to take Scienceblogs. If any of the other sciblings can wrangle it I can highly recommend it. Also, to those who have commented on the migration to wordpress, the new look etc., they clearly are monitoring your opinions about the change and working to first make the system fully functional, then hopefully we can improve some stylistic elements of the site. In particular I think people miss the links to comments from the sidebars, number of comments visible from the main post, and the size of the lead-in. I also have to figure out why WP doesn’t want to upload my custom banners. Oh well. It’s a process.

Site Upgrade

ScienceBlogs is going to be having it’s back end worked on starting sometime tomorrow, which is much less uncomfortable than it sounds. If I have something that I absolutely can’t resist telling you, it will be up at my old WP blog until Sb gets its new and improved back end up and running.

Podcast Update

The feed for my nascent podcast (dubbed “PalCast” by Isis) has moved. You may or may not be affected (assuming you’re a listener). The new feed address is here, but you’re still better off using feedburner.

This switch is due to the benevolence of our Seed Overlords, who graciously gave me a little corner of the server to help me out with this foray into a new medium. As I become more familiar with the technology, you will be subjected to guests of all sorts…really.

ScienceOnline09—let’s get moving!

ScienceOnline09 is rapidly approaching, and I’m very excited about my “geek-cation”.

I’ll be co-moderating a session on anonymity with Abel from TerraSig, and I’ll be leading a session on Blogging 101 at which you can actually start a real blog. w00t!

I’m also hoping to talk some people into joining me for a podcast, preferably one that involves the participants drinking.

If you’re coming to the conference, visit the links above to discuss the sessions. If you’re not coming but want to feel like you’re there, were going to be doing lots of live blogging.

Happy New Year! Now who are you again?

I’ve been spending a lot of time with family and friends lately, something I don’t often get the chance to do. And while I’m not happy about the reason for it, I’m still thankful for all the friends I sometimes forget I have.

One thing I found out from many of my friends is that if I post a piece on my facebook page, they’ll read it. But they won’t necessarily come here to read my other stuff. Why not?

The ongoing discussion here in the blogosphere sometimes needs an interruption, a break to remember what it is we do here, if anything. I’m not big on “Top 10” or other similar New Years posts, so for 2009, I’m going to explain to you who the hell I am, what my writing is about, and why you really should read it. Really.

First of all, blog reading 101. Blogs, a shortening of “weblog”, is an online writing form existing somewhere in the space between self-absorbed adolescent diary and journalism. Blogs themselves have certain conventions that print media don’t. For example, when reading a blog post, and encountering a link, this link often leads to another blog or article that expands on the underlined idea, without having to make a major digression. Blogs can also be read in rss feeds, which is an easy format for glancing through your favorite writers.


The Hoofnagle brothers (those handsome lads pictured at the left) started the denialism blog quite a while ago because they saw a pattern. Certain issues in science and the news seemed to attract a certain type of wacko. For example, there is a large and somewhat influential community that denies that HIV causes AIDS. This pissed them off. What the Hoofnagles recognized is that this “denialism” may infect many issues (AIDS, global warming, the Holocaust, evolution, to name a few), but the tactics, the logical errors, remain the same. People who deny the Holocaust happened use the same tactics as those who claim AIDS is something other than HIV infection. Those of us who follow these (very harmful and often hateful) movements have noticed how the people involved use certain tactics over and over to try to show the public how “reasonable” they are.

The study of denialism roots out these tactics, reveals these patterns, and shows these folks to be what they really are—charlatans, hate-mongers, corporate shills, and sometimes just poor, deluded souls.

I started writing myself almost two years ago at a blog I called White Coat Underground. I didn’t have a plan so much as to just write about whatever interested me. Apparently my writing interested others as well, because the readership grew.
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Podcast #3

The latest edition is up at iTunes and Feedburner. Once again, I’ve failed to deliver the product I intended due to some difficult circumstances, but I promise some kind guests and some controversial guests in the future.

Podcast update

OK, we’ve got a second episode up, with much better ones to come, including, hopefully, some rather heated discussions with a few interesting guests. Interestingly, if you click on the link above in Firefox, you are taken to the rss feed. If you do it in IE, you get an error. So, either use iTunes or FF.

The iTunes feed is up and running—you can see it on the right sidebar—it’s the white coat thingy.

I’ve found that I’m not compulsive enough to write code, but if I have to update an xml file once a week, well, I’ll dig deep for my inner compulsive self.


OK, so I guess I’m not busy enough, cuz I’m experimenting with podcasting. I have a voice best left to typing, but I want to try a new medium.

The first episode is on arrogance in medicine, and the rss feed looks funky cuz i’m still learning, but let me know how it goes. This discussion is a continuation of one that has gone on right here. I’m opening a thread in the forums to discuss the issue. Please…please let me know what technical difficulties arise, as I’m quite new to this.

That is all.

Blogospherics—giving folks their due

Orac is celebrating his 4th blogiversary today, and folks are giving him his props over at his place. I was about to give him congrats over there, but I figured this deserved a post of its own.

I started blogging seriously in May of 07. I had been attracted to the crankosphere via the cesspit of inanity that is Conservapedia. A small cabal of folks set up a parallel site called rationalwiki to refute the hate-filled lies at the other site. I ended up writing a number of medical pieces over there, and eventually decided I needed to write pieces less consistent with what a wiki requires, so I started up WhiteCoat Underground at wordpress. Originally, I was going to write a lot more medical anecdotes, but I was seduced by the need to refute ridiculous medical claims, and finally stumbled on the term “woo”. Trying to hunt down this term, I came upon Respectful Insolence (and from there, the rest of

I wrote prolifically, if not always well, and found ideas here at Sb to riff on. After sharing some cross-traffic from Orac, I emailed him for blog advice, and was surprised to receive a prompt and helpful response. This is not what I expected.
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