The Scientific Activist (Archives)


Feb 11, 2006

What a Month!

Today marks the one month anniversary of The Scientific Activist, and what a month it has been! The site has already had over 100,000 visitors, with the 100,000th coming on 10 February, sometime around 20:20 GMT. I even managed to sneak into The New York Times once. To mark the occasion, I’d like to take a moment to look back at some of the highlights from the last month.

I kicked it all off on 11 January with my post “What Is a Scientific Activist?” which laid out what this site would be all about. After that post, I took on a variety of issues, from transgenic crops to political interference in science. The following posts are some of my favorites:

One of the most interesting experiences I had, though, was when I went where Oxford scientists fear to tread, to an animal rights protest, in order to take in the experience and to find out what the protesters were all about. The results of this experience were written up in my personal favorite, “Caught in the Line of Fire: Animal Rights Activists Take Over Oxford”.

Of course, the biggest break was when I discovered that NASA censor George Deutsch had lied about having a college degree, causing him to resign from his post. Although this removed one force working against the spread of scientific information, there are many more to take on and many actively working against the spread of scientifically accurate information on a variety of topics.

I hope you enjoyed reading these posts as much as I enjoyed writing them, and I hope you’ll join me for another month of taking on political interference in science, discussing proper applications of science, and promoting the cause of science in general.


  • Congratulations! Blogs like this one are badly needed. I only whish that there was more blogs like this, and in spanish of course, there's a terrible lack of scientific education, if only scientific community was more commited to this kind of activity, I'm sure that the world would be a better place.

    Keep up the good work!

    By Blogger Mytho, at Sat Feb 11, 08:53:00 PM  

  • You are so full of yourself Nick. Of course you had a lot of hits - and I will bet they only happened after you started to go after a fellow Aggie and a link appeared at the New York Times. What is really sad is how some 23 year old who has never even had a job can sit here and speculate and pontificate about the motives of others. Enjoy the celebrity status - because 100,000 people will now be watching you very closely. And when you screw up they'll be all over you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Feb 11, 09:25:00 PM  

  • What a nice comment! I always say that there's no better way to emphasize your point than to make rude, inaccurate statements about someone you have never met.

    Having known Nick for almost five years, I will say this: Nick, I can truly say that you are one of the most intelligent and dedicated people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. You are surprisingly objective in your beliefs; a refreshing change from most college students whose political ideals are not based on their life experience, but on the beliefs of their peers and families. At A&M you busted your ass not only for class and research (holding the proverbial "jock" in 3D morphogenesis), but the Aggie Dems, the Batt, the biochem department, ad infinitum. And you had a damn good time doing it.

    Anonymous poster, I hope you can understand that the singular motive driving this blog is for the preservation of the purity of science, and not for discrediting others purely for sadistic enjoyment. The Deutsch thing is in reality just one small example of the current administration's attempt to throw a political blanket over important scientific research and its communication to the public. And as a researcher, I find that to be incredibly appalling.

    One more thing....if you can't call earning your PhD a 'job', then I don't know what is. Anyone who has ever worked in a good research lab knows that you often teeter dangerously close to losing your personal life if you're not careful. I dare not think about all the sleep I've lost by waking up at 3 am to drive to the lab and work for hours, only to come home to gross out my boyfriend with the smell of chloroform hovering about me. I doubt any graduate student in science would disagree with this.

    By Anonymous Jen Dulin, at Sat Feb 11, 11:32:00 PM  

  • Congratulations on your quick milestone and keep up the fine work. You have done well to establish yourself on the scene in such a short period of time. Keep up the good work.

    Plug alert -

    By Blogger richmanwisco, at Sun Feb 12, 12:47:00 AM  

  • When someone doesn't think that being a graduate student is work, the only thing I can say is "consider the source". I started grad school in my late thirties after having worked full-time or nearly so for twelve years. Graduate education was much harder work than any full-time job I'd had, and for much less pay. (I can't complain, though, because I enjoyed it so much more than the jobs I'd had previously, and because it qualified me to do further work that's also been highly enjoyable.)

    Then again, Mr. Deutsch got a brief ride on the gravy train without having to do the work required to finish his B.A., so sometimes people do fall through the cracks. But when someone like good old "anonymous" starts sniping at you, just remember the words of Steve Irwin: "If they're bitin' ya, ya know ya got 'em."

    I'm looking forward to reading this blog in the months and years to come!

    By Blogger Julie, at Sun Feb 12, 02:31:00 AM  

  • I'm hooked. And it only took one NASA censor to do it.

    By Blogger Alan, at Sun Feb 12, 03:26:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Swill to Power, at Sun Feb 12, 06:34:00 AM  

  • Keep up the good work, bro. Even some Ph.D.s in the humanities consider your work to be both entertaining and relevant: three cheers for critical thinking, whatever the discipline.

    By Blogger Swill to Power, at Sun Feb 12, 06:36:00 AM  

  • Re: Anonymous whinger,

    When life hands you sour grapes - it's too late to wine. A true partisan engages in open debate with transparency. A troll/crank hides and flings scat from the shadows because he fears exposure.
    Which one are you?

    R Pierson

    By Anonymous molecular spongebob, at Sun Feb 12, 06:44:00 AM  

  • Congrtulations! You deserve it. Keep up the good work.

    By Blogger coturnix, at Sun Feb 12, 07:05:00 AM  

  • Excellent work! It's something for all of us to aspire to.

    The Deutsch outing was important. You scooped the main streamers.

    I think I have scooped them on solar cogeneration and electric cars serving as a distributed battery to buffer the inconsistencies of renewable energy sources...amongst other developments.

    The problem is that they do not even understand what these things mean for energy policy.

    My latest notion is the Prairie Restoration National Renewable Energy Park.

    A 15,000 square mile region of the northern great plains high wind speed area that would feature 1000s of huge wind machines and herds of bison on a restored prairie.

    Ir could provide half of US electricity needs.

    By Blogger, at Sun Feb 12, 09:25:00 AM  

  • Yes - good work! I hope you don't mind, I linked to your blog from mine, called "Reality-Based Engineering". After the birth of my baby daughter, however, I've sadly not had much time to blog away.

    Good show.

    By Blogger jimboses, at Sun Feb 12, 02:39:00 PM  

  • What a lot of work for a busy student! Great job. The creationists / intelligent designers have actually done us a favor, spurring talk among everyday materialists to discuss the value of scientific thought.

    For religious people of all faiths. Think this over, God approves of science and promotes it by making it so rewarding. The rewards are innumerable; to name two freedom of slaves because of physical science (machinery), saved lives because of medical science. What enabled us to get above the earth and look down upon God's creation? Aerospace science. God helps those who help themselves and science is the method.

    I hope you get a peppering of negative comments to your site Nick. There's nothing like the fire of controversy to bring return visitors and spark discussion about your super site.

    Sunday, February 12, 2006 11:03 AM Pacific

    By Blogger Dawes, at Sun Feb 12, 07:11:00 PM  

  • I did find out about you through your "outing" of Deutsch, I admit it. But I'm hooked. You cover subjects so near and dear to my heart, and you do it in a far more focused and coherent fashion than many. You re an excellent writer. I'm putting a permanent link to here on my blog.

    BTW, Oxford is not exactly close, but if you ever find yourself in the neighbourhood of Aberdeen (they run good Systems Biology workshops up here, hint hint!) give me a shout on my journal, because I feel the need to buy you a beer.

    By Blogger luna_the_cat, at Sun Feb 12, 10:24:00 PM  

  • Hi guys, I am an Italian engineer and I just read about this guy pretending to be a journalist who could make it into the NASA and censor a leading scientist in his field; we all think of NASA as the most advanced place to work for anyone with a scientific background, maybe the most accredited institution in his field, and then find out that having been close to a powerful person such as Mr. Bush, in this specific case, can make up for anything.Unfortunately, it made me feel so much at home.
    Ciao from Milan, Italy

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Feb 13, 11:10:00 AM  

  • While I would agree that NASA is supposed to be on of the premiere scientific establishments in the world, it's still a government agency. IE - they've done good (Mars Rover), and they've done the ridiculous (ISS). Conversion issues aside, I need only to say two words to draw the ire of protein engineers. Space-Xtals. GMAFB.

    By Anonymous Molecular Spongebob, at Tue Feb 14, 07:32:00 PM  

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