Archive for the 'meta-blag' category

Science-based medicine blog---too successful

Sep 22 2009 Published by under meta-blag

Science-based medicine, my other blogging venue, is temporarily down. The posts are written by a stable of fantastic professionals, and they are always a good read---except for today. Recently, we migrated to a new server and shortly thereafter, the blog became buggy until it crashed completely. The culprit appears to be traffic---lots of traffic. That's a good thing (unless it's a DDOS attack, which is not completely implausible).
So, Steve Novella, the guru behind SBM and many other skeptical ventures is moving us to a new host where all will be unicorns and rainbows. Stay tuned.

9 responses so far

How to make a scientist vomit---and thank you for it

Sep 01 2009 Published by under meta-blag

The Drake Passage is infamous. Supposedly, it's nearly impossible to make the crossing to without throwing up----a lot. But few "civilians" ever get to experience the passage, and it's ultimate goal----Antarctica.
Devorah Bennu is an exceptional science writer and photographer. Reading her blog is like getting a daily dose of National Geographic, except free and good. Her science career was famously interrupted, but she has used the interregnum to become one of the webs best popularizers of science.
And now she has a chance to go to Antarctica as an official expedition blogger, sending us all photos and stories of the most fascinating place on the planet (oh, and there's birds too, and no one knows birds like Devorah). So go now and vote for her to go to Antarctica. She's in third place, and if we get her up into first, she'll be off to the Drake Passage. It costs you nothing, and you won't regret it. You can make her puke, and she'll thank you for it. What could be better?

3 responses so far

Skeptics' Circle #116 is up!

Jul 30 2009 Published by under Absurd medical claims, Medicine, meta-blag

I've been a terrible netizen. I haven't been keeping up with my blog carnivals, especially my favorite, the Skeptics' Circle.
Well, it's up now at Beyond the Short Coat. Go and read!

No responses yet

Caritas, tzedakeh, etc.

Jul 19 2009 Published by under meta-blag

One of my Sciblings, one Ethan Siegel has issued a charity challenge. If one hundred commenters head over to his place and leave a comment assuring him that they will donate 10 USD to the charity of their choice, and name the charity, he will cut off his luxuriant locks.
Please, do it. His hair has, like, its own zip code or something.

No responses yet

Bad ads

Jul 02 2009 Published by under meta-blag

In case you hadn't noticed, the advertising present on the top and right of the blog has been a bit odd lately. Dr. Oz's smiling face has been showing up above mine, you may have just won $59, your teeth can be whiter than white, and last but not least human trafficking in "Russian brides".
First, might I point out that I have nothing to do with the ads other than appearing on the same page as them.
Wait, that's stupid. I might not choose the ads, but I choose to write for ScienceBlogs, so I am culpable. Normally, I don't care much about ads that show up on my page. After all, someone has to pay for the bandwidth. But when something is dangerous, I have to draw the line. Quackery ads are potentially dangerous, fake lotto ads can rip people off, any questionable click can infect your computer---but it's the "Russian brides" that is the most distressing. There is a real problem with trafficking of women in the world, often very young, always impoverished, and more often than not, in addition to being deprived of their freedom, beaten, raped, starved, and sold as chattel. It's not OK to be seen on the same page as these ads.
Thankfully, once the Sb Overlords were notified, they promised to immediately pull the ads, allowing me to continue here rather than go back to wordpress. As of now, I no longer see the Russian bride ads, but I still see the ads for fake penis growth pills and other dangerous nonsense. Hopefully these will be gone soon.
In tough economic times, I'm willing to make certain compromises. I can live with crappy ads as long as they aren't a rip-off and aren't dangerous. But some lines cannot be crossed. Ever.

25 responses so far

Hey, Jason!

Jun 27 2009 Published by under meta-blag

We should probably mention that it isn't really your help, either.

5 responses so far

So sorry

Jun 01 2009 Published by under meta-blag

To all of my friends, colleagues, fans, and detractors, I have been buried in email and real life duties, so if I haven't responded to your veryimportantemail, I'm really sorry.
That is all.

No responses yet


May 28 2009 Published by under meta-blag

There's a contest going on in the blogosphere, and I want in. 3 Quarks Daily is taking nominations for best social science or natural history blog post published between May 28th, 2008 and now. Go here to nominate your favorite piece, but HURRY---nominations end June 1. This year's judge is Steven Pinker.
So, when you think about nominating some of my wonderful posts, remember you can check over at denialism blog as well.
Srsly...please nominate some nice posts. My ego would love it.

One response so far

You won't understand this post, so don't bother

May 21 2009 Published by under meta-blag

OK, that's an exaggeration, but I'll explain. First, some colleagues and I have been talking about two related issues: how to continue to build readership, and what attracts or repels certain groups of readers. I love my readers and commenters, but are there things I could be doing to attract more readers? And what would I be willing to do?
For example, if I started promoting quackery, I could not only build my readership, but make ass-loads of money. This I will not do. I might also attract people to my blog who currently are turned off to it. But if promoting quackery is what it takes to bring in readers, I'm willing to stick with my current traffic.
But what might I be doing that is turning away potential allies? For example, I have walked into a roomful of doctors before, and found the conversation so alienating that I have simply walked away. In this case, alienating can be the assumption in the conversation of church-membership, or the use of terms such as "jew'd him down". These things are like a door in the face. One of my goals is to make sure I'm not slamming my door in too many faces.
These slamming doors can be very subtle, and the "slammer" is often oblivious. I do not write racist posts, but does my failure to address race and medicine more often turn away readers? I don't explicitly address gender issues all that often---is my content and language chasing people away? One of the reasons I avoid posting on religion or politics too often is not because I don't have opinions, but because I don't want to lose potential allies of other religious or political bents. Does my failure to address political and religious issues actually turn more people away than it attracts?
These are rhetorical questions. I write what I write because I know it, but I do try to reach outside my most intimate knowledge to address a wider audience. It's hard work to reach outside your comfort zone and create a blog environment that is more widely welcoming. I don't know if I will succeed, but all I ask is that you give me a chance.

34 responses so far

Web 2.0---your doing it wrong

Apr 22 2009 Published by under meta-blag

As anyone who has been following the naturopathy thread knows, this blog often covers controversial topics. To help elucidate the problems, there is often vigorous debate, which I rarely censor.
I bring this up because of this blogs recent HONcode certification. As I told you, HON is struggling with the format of blogs. They are rather ambivalent about such a "free for all" format. Hence this email:

Dear DrPal,
We have recently received a complaint concerning your site:
It is regarding the post about the Naturopath Challenge.
We make it a policy not to involve ourselves too much in any Web 2.0 as
the posts/comments on these websites , though they may sometimes be deemed
inappropriate by one or another, are open, community participatory and the
whole purpose of such sites is self expression.
For this same reason, we did not see any initial reason to suspend your
Having said this, we do however ask all our certified websites to practice
and ensure the practice of respectful behaviour towards each other.
We realize that the subject of naturopaths and MD's is a high 'inflammatory'
topics amongst the professionals themselves, however it still does not call for
a breakdown of respect towards each other.
In the posts on your site, we did notice this however, in varying degrees.
e.g. "Mr. Franklin, your reasoning is rather anemic (but I'm sure there's an herb for that)."
"My advice...either learn to accept reality, or learn to put extra salsa on the taco."
"Let's look at the physician who posted this blog. He looks overweight,
probably on a few anti-hypertensives to control his high blood pressure. He is
likely on a statin since he believes drugs are the cure-all for disease despite
the debilitating side effects."
"Doug I haven't called you a witch doctor once yet.
.. Because I have great respect for witch doctors.
At least THEY don't pretend to be real doctors. "
We realize that your blog, more than most, allows a greater spectrum of
free speech, however we request you to always keep in mind the importance
of treating all users with dignity and respect. This does not mean that
one cannot have a different opinion, only that it be transmitted in a
respectful manner.
Please note that you are obliged to respect the HONcode at all times as stated
in the 'Conditions of Certification' during your application for the HONcode.
We look forward to hearing from you on this matter and are sure that you
will appreciate our point of view on this matter.
Thank you for your co-operation,
Best regards,
The HONcode team.

My response:

As this type of vigorous debate is critical to a blog, especially one dealing with the changing nature of medicine, i will remove the HONcode certification until such as time is you feel HONcode and the format of blogs are more congruent.

The amusing part of this is that it was ignited by a complaint. Since I get complaints several times a day they don't really bother me, but this is a clear instance of someone being unhappy about my lack of support for their particular medical cult. Since they have no science to fall back on, and the truth eludes them, they try to censor.
Of course, HONcode has nothing to do with what I write, it actually affects me not at all. Heh.

14 responses so far

« Newer posts Older posts »