Are Atheists Better at Blogging?
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
One of the richest sub-worlds of blogging is the Atheist NetRoots. As I described last week, popular atheist bloggers such as PZ Myers have developed a loyal and engaged following of readers. Like political blogs more generally, these online discussions offer valuable insight but also feature a dark underbelly of ideology. And for better or for worse, the Atheist NetRoots now shapes how issues at the intersection of religion and society are debated.
Which prompts the question, given their popularity and presumed influence, are atheists better at blogging than religious folk? It's a query that was posed to me in a video interview with Big Think. My answer was spotlighted yesterday by the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan. Below is the text of my reply taken from the transcript for the video interview.
What do readers think? Is there something unique about the atheist community that makes the world of blogging a natural outlet?
In part the new atheist movement is almost a social movement within the larger scientific community. Many of the people that are attracted to new atheist movement identify with science or are scientists themselves and certainly scientists have been online for a long time. In fact, many of the most prominent bloggers, new atheist bloggers, they came about… they came up and they kind of honed their skills in internet discussion groups, mostly around the debates about evolution. So they have that natural consistency and that natural… the pre-existing experience with using online organizing and reaching people online that maybe some of the religious organizations do not. The advantage that the religious organizations have though is they have real world communities. They have networks of interaction through mega-churches, through traditional churches and one of the things that I’ll be blogging and writing about and taking a look at, at the Age of Engagement is how are traditional religious organizations and movements now using the online world to foster the communities, to build their communities or is the online world actually taking away some of their followers and distracting people who otherwise might commit to that particular religious faith or even attend church on a weekly basis.
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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