Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I hope its a trend

As Coturnix, and Carl Zimmer and PZ Myers...and a host of biology bloggers outside of Seed's umbrella all demonstrate, there is a rich cargo of information and explanation of biology, especially evolutionary biology available to and written for the benefit of the rest of us who are not trained in biology. All of us being organisms kept going and healthy by machinery we only partly understand, this is endlessly fascinating reading.

It occurs to me to wonder: Who is reading? Blogs generally cost nothing to view and otherwise pose no barrier to readership except literacy and access to a browser...it could be anybody. But we know from the ID battles that many in the US are strongly encourged by their religious leaders NOT to read up on this science. I would like to imagine that a recent choice of the NYTimes editors to add not just another pretty face but a name brand biology popularizer as a blogger, and charge admission, signals their assessement that there is a growing audience for good science writing, an audience interested enough to pay. The reason I think they may be right is that Ms. Judson's blog drew 216 comments on its first 14 posts...and people not inclined to pay are not being counted here.

What is the trend I am hopeful of here? That the IDiots stirred up a hornet's nest. That the strident anti-science of the creationists basically, and in the long run at least, servered to make a lot of people curious about the science that was being disputed. There may always be a need for some blogs primarily devoted to snuffing out the plagues of ignorance fundmentalists keep bringing into the classroom. But for the rest of us, the sign-in of the Times and the wide open doors of the biology community library seem to me like the ship of humanity's natural curiousity coming back on course.

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