Why SkS withdrew from the Bloggies

The Weblog Awards, aka the Bloggies, is an annual competition honoring blogs in various categories. Finalists are chosen by online nomination and winners are chosen by online voting. This year, Skeptical Science made the finalists of the Science and Technology category. Yesterday, I requested that SkS be withdrawn from the competition, as reported in the Guardian. Why? Because the Bloggies have become inextricably associated with anti-science blogs.

In an inversion of reality, the Science and Technology category is dominated by anti-science blogs that post conspiracy theories about the scientific community, deny the full body of evidence and reject the scientific consensus. The fact that 4 out of 5 science finalists are anti-science demonstrates that the integrity of the Bloggies Award has been compromised. I, like any pro-science blogger, am not comfortable with the notion of competing for an award that has previously been won by anti-science blogs.

It's worth considering why there is such an asymmetry with the award swarmed by readers of anti-climate science blogs but ignored by legitimate science and technology blogs. Quite simply, this is all they've got. Anti-science blogs reject the consensus of evidence in the peer-reviewed literature. They reject the overwhelming consensus in the scientific community. They value the opinion of anonymous internet users over climate scientists actively publishing climate research in the peer-reviewed literature.  They clutch at any life preserver to ward off the rising tide of evidence for dangerous man-made global warming, as demonstrated by the zeal that led to 9 anti-science blogs appearing in the finalists of various categories.

Can the Bloggies free themselves from the association with anti-science and attract back the interest of the science blogging community? It's a tough ask but I see only one way to achieve this. Anti-science blogs should not be allocated to a science category. An expert panel could take an active role in filtering the nominees, to ascertain that they properly qualify in the category for which they have been nominated. Perhaps instituting such a policy may attract science and technology blogs back to the Bloggies Awards in the future, although it may take time for the association with anti-science to wear off.

Posted by John Cook on Friday, 1 March, 2013

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