To Blog or Not To Blog? – That is the Question

As Looking for Darwin nears its publication date, the focus of this site is going to need to change. It started out life as a sort of journey, going hand-in-hand with my thought processes as I wrote the book. But having completed my journey – at least, having found what I was looking for – it seems best to turn this site into a repository of things Darwin; a sort of conscience for evolution; a destination for people who are questioning what life is all about.

I arrived home just yesterday from SCANZ, a conference for science communicators. I brought back with me two principal impressions. The first was the surprizing degree of vehemence that some journalists felt towards blogs. At least one thought that all blogs were parasites, preying on the investigative skills of real journos, who “diligently”, “scrupulously”, “thoroughly” and “objectively” dissected topics in a “balanced” manner. Perversely, this same person decried the fact that most news these days is gathered by just two organizations. If journalists were really so objective, would that be a problem? The real answer is that journalism is no less opinion-based than most blogs – just watch Fox News if you believe otherwise – and that blogs are helping to fill the void left by investigative journalists as many of the mainstream media cut back their services. If freedom of the press is at the heart of a free and democratic society – and I believe it is – then blogs are stepping up to the plate as the ranks of journalists diminish. Of course there is a lot of rubbish out there paraded as blogs – how could there not be with more than 70 million blogs, with 120,000 new blogs started each day, and a whopping 1.4 million posts to blogs each day (these figures come courtesy of Technorati) – but the best blogs are as revealing as the best journalism.

The other significant message I gained from the conference was delivered by Paul Callaghan, both an extraordinary scientist and an accomplished science commentator. He suggested that in extolling the virtues of the scientific methodology (and the view of the world so derived), we should not be smug or belligerent towards people that held to alternative views. He did not agree with what he saw as Richard Dawkins’ “arrogance” with respect to those who believed in God. He professed, himself, to believing in Darwin’s evolution by natural selection, but to also having a “spiritual side”, which he described as really coming from the knowledge he had gained of the world around him. It sounded like a very reasoned and reasonable position to take, but I was left wondering whether others (diehard Darwinians or religious fundamentalists) would view it as akin to trying to have a dollar each way?

But what does it matter what I think? It is just one person’s opinion. Or is it?
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