One of my chief complaints about many science blogs is that there really isn’t much science to be found there. Many of the most popular consist primarily of diatribes about various political issues (gay marriage, immigration, the tea party, etc) and the personal religious beliefs of the blogger (who is more often than not an evangelistic New Atheist). What one will find very little discussion of science, as in information about current research, particular papers, or the state of various scientific fields. That was why I was glad to see a recent piece in the New York Times which affirms my suspicion. Reporter Virginia Heffernan writes:
Hammering away at an ideology, substituting stridency for contemplation, pummeling its enemies in absentia: ScienceBlogs has become Fox News for the religion-baiting, peak-oil crowd. Though Myers and other science bloggers boast that they can be jerky in the service of anti-charlatanism, that’s not what’s bothersome about them. What’s bothersome is that the site is misleading. It’s not science by scientists, not even remotely; it’s science blogging by science bloggers. And science blogging, apparently, is a form of redundant and effortfully incendiary rhetoric that draws bad-faith moral authority from the word “science” and from occasional invocations of “peer-reviewed” thises and thats.
Under cover of intellectual rigor, the science bloggers — or many of the most visible ones, anyway — prosecute agendas so charged with bigotry that it doesn’t take a pun-happy French critic or a rapier-witted Cambridge atheist to call this whole ScienceBlogs enterprise what it is, or has become: class-war claptrap.
With that, she pretty much nails it. Now there is nothing wrong with devoting one’s site to advocating for a Leftist political agenda, but if a site’s primary content consists of whining about creationists, the religious, tea partiers, Republicans and advocating gay marriage, atheism, and Progressive politics, then it isn’t science site, it’s a propaganda tool.