Have a few minutes to spare?


[EDITED TO ADD: thanks! We reached 1000 survey responses in just about 10 hours’ time, so the survey is now closed…we really appreciate your participation!]

If so, we’d love to have your input at a quick survey looking more closely at science blog readers (and writers!):

This survey attempts to access the opinions of bloggers, blog-readers, and non-blog folk in regards to the impact of blogs on the outside world. The authors of the survey are completing an academic manuscript on the impact of science blogging and this survey will provide invaluable data to answer the following questions:

Who reads or writes blogs? What are the perceptions of blogging, and what are the views of those who read blogs? How do academics and others perceive science blogging? What, if any, influence does science blogging have on science in general?

Please consider participating in the survey as an act of ‘internet solidarity’! It will likely take 10 minutes, and a bit more if you are a blogger yourself. We thank you in advance.


That was fun.

Piece O’ cake.

Thanks for putting this survey together. I hope you publish the compiled data and your interpretations thereof here.

Done it.

Three complaints and a question about the survey: First, the survey does not have a place to send general feedback about the survey. Second, math is listed as a science. While math does fall into the same category for these purposes, most philosophers of science would not characterize math as a science. Certainly no one with a neo-Popperian or moderate Kuhnian view would include math as science. Third, the question asking religion was poorly phrased and failed to account for some very basic differences in non-Christian religions. For example, in many ways a Charedi Jew will have less in common with a Reform Jew than the Reform Jew will have with a mainline Protestant, but all the Jews get lumped together. I would suspect given the types of people sampled that the vast majority of Jews who identify for the question as practicing Judaism will be either Reform, Conservative or Modern Orthodox, so it will likely not substantially alter the statistics. However, such lumping is still sloppy and annoying.

Finally, will the results be available somewhere when the survey is complete?

Two thoughts… normal schmoe’s like me had to use the “other” for the employment question; it seemed like the assumption was that the great majority of science blog readers are either scientists, students or teachers. While a disproportionate number of commenters/bloggers might fall into those categories, I’d imagine that the majority of readers are laymen like myself.

To Joshua, regarding the religion thing, I understand what you’re saying, but considering how diverse religion is in the world, it’d be almost impossible to please everyone. My first impression when reading that question was to choose atheist (for myself), but my second impression was to wonder why Eastern Orthodoxy–which is the 2nd largest Christian Church, and has as legit a claim to historical roots as Catholicism–wasn’t included. But, like I said, you can’t please everyone. Some conflation is inevitable.

Thanks for the comments (and for participating, for those of you who filled it out). Joshua–I know we had a place for feedback; it must have been deleted somewhere along the way, apologies. Regarding math, well, perhaps we should have reworded that as math *and* science, or something to be more inclusive and not tick off the philosophers. Regarding religions, we had a lot of discussions for that one and compromised. The software is set up to only allow for 1000 responses, so we wrestled with how much we wanted to divide up any of the groups. I think for that question we ended up with no one being completely happy with it–as is to be somewhat expected for a religion question, I suppose.

Justin–well, occupation is one thing we’re interested in finding out, because we don’t know anything about those readers who *don’t* comment. I’d guess that most of those motivated to take the survey will indeed fall into the science/academic groups, but it’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out. We don’t mean to alienate any “schmoes;” it’s just that we could have put an endless list of occupations, and only had 10 of them represented by more than one person–so we figured it would be easier both on readers and ourselves if we left that open-ended.

Tara, thanks for the quick response. And now one further nitpick: since the survey was only open for 10 hours there will likely be a large geographic imbalance due to timezones which could substantially skew the sample.

Yeah, we had no idea it would fill up this quick. We figured to have it up a week or so; PZ didn’t even have a chance to pimp it at Pharyngula, for example. Guess y’all are just more awesome than we gave you credit for!

Two Items: 1st. I would like to have seen “Engineer” as an occupation.

2nt. It would be interesting to see the results of the same survey on a ID site, and how long it would take to fill up.


Hmmm… I got a “This survey is currently closed.” message.

I want to be counted!!


Presumably this work already takes into account the inherant systemic biases of online surveys, but I wonder if you’ve noted this one: since it was only open for ten hours, most of your responses will be from those who constantly check their feeds, rather than those who only read blogs once a day or less often. One can speculate that those categories may correlate somewhat with “perceptions of blogging” and the occupations of blog readers. Also, I don’t know if you were collecting international opinions, but a questionaire that is only open for ten hours will collect fewer opinions from timezones where those ten hours are overnight – locations where perceptions of blogging may be different.

I will pitch in with the timing issue.

But coturnix mentions ScienceBlogs will spin of into Europe, thus covering another third of the 24h day with activity and local high opportunity commenting. Remains an Asian connection! :-P

Certainly no one with a neo-Popperian or moderate Kuhnian view would include math as science.

I think that is a question to put to mathematicians, not philosophers.

A few mathematicians feels math have empirical traits, for example Chaitin who calls it “quasi-empirical” IIRC. Meanwhile, most mathematicians probably think of math as non-science.

[Chaitin’s constant, which describes the halting probability of a real program, is not computable since the halting problem is undecidable, and it is random. AFAIU there is but one unspecified bit lacking. So IIRC Chaitin’s description is that we can flip a coin to fully decide the probability - the outcome yes/no decides the lacking bit.

Hence math is not only inherently random but semi-empirical if we want to make the best of it, and we have to chose suitable models and check them against reality. And indeed, math is inspired by empirical sciences as well as it informs them.

I guess a Popperian could say that math is tested by its use in falsifiability tests in science.]

Re “A few mathematicians feels math have empirical traits,”

Speaking as a s/w engineer who minored in math, I think the selection of axioms for a mathematical system is an empirical (i.e., trial and error) process. Take for example the initial development of axiomatic set theory - they tried to do it without axioms at first, then ran into those annoying paradoxes.


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This page contains a single entry by Tara Smith published on September 17, 2007 10:10 AM.

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