A short history of this site for Cell

A while back, the molecular biology journal Cell asked several scientists who run their own websites to contribute a short precis about why they do it.  Besides me, there were Derek Lowe (In the Pipeline, a site about drugs and the pharma industry published by Science Translational Medicine), Kate Felhaber from UCLA (Knowing Neurons, a neuroscience education site), and John Timmer (science editor of Ars Technica). The pieces ran in the December 1 issue (“What Drives You to Blog?” Cell 167: 1446-1447), but aren’t free online. I’ve put a screenshot of my bit below, and will send the entire short pdf to anyone who inquires.

There’s probably nothing here you don’t know, but you may not know why I began this site eight years ago (has it been that long?) and how different it is from what I envisioned.

As of this morning, there were 44,690 subscribers. With any luck, we’ll hit 50,000 this year.



  1. BobTerrace
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    You forgot to mention boots.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      My first thought as well!!

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        My frommage (french for cheesy):

        You keep saying you’ve got something for me.
        something you call science, but confess.
        You’ve been postin’ where you shouldn’t have been a postin’
        and now someone else is readin’ all your best.

        These blogs are made for talking, and that’s just what they’ll do
        one of these days these blogs are gonna talk all over you.

        You keep flyin, when you oughta be boatin’
        and you keep losin’ when you oughta not bet.
        You keep pie eatin’ when you oughta be dietin’.
        Now what’s right is right, but you ain’t been right yet.

        These blogs are made for talking, and that’s just what they’ll do
        one of these days these blogs are gonna talk all over you.

        You keep nuts feedin’ where you shouldn’t be nuts seedin’
        and you keep thinkin’ that you’ll never get bit. Ha!
        I just found me a brand new box of squirrels, yeah
        and what they know you ain’t had time to learn.

        These blogs are made for talking, and that’s just what they’ll do
        one of these days these blogs are gonna talk all over you.

        Are you ready blogs? Start talkin’!

        • Posted January 8, 2017 at 8:18 pm | Permalink


        • rickflick
          Posted January 8, 2017 at 8:55 pm | Permalink


        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

          Box of squirrels! 🤣

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 9, 2017 at 2:50 am | Permalink

          I can almost hear Nancy Sinatra singing it.


          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 9, 2017 at 3:15 am | Permalink

            … and I do like the clever plays on words in the original
            ‘What’s right is right and you ain’t been right yet’
            …written by (Googles) – oh, Lee Hazlewood. Surprise.


  2. ethan
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    …food and cats?
    food, MUSIC, and cats!!

  3. Dale
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I don’t post comments to your site very often, but I read your posts almost everyday. Your web site has become an integral part of my life.

    • nwalsh
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink


  4. George
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Not just a conversation about life but life, the universe and everything.

    • Kevin
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      WEIT = 42

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        I’m sure it does, but how exactly? Counting the dashes in the Morse code encoding of “WEIT”? The distance in kilo-cubits (Egyptian, not Mesopotamian) between West, East, Inside and Top points of the Kufu pyramid?

        • rickflick
          Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

          d) all of the above.

  5. largeswope
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I am glad your editor recommended you start this site. I enjoy it everyday. Thank you.

  6. Hempenstein
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    You probably have over 50K subscribers counting the de facto ones like me, who don’t subscribe but stop by more than daily.

    • Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      JTLYK. You too can follow, and at no cost!

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Me too. I keep the latest post permanently on my screen, and refresh it each morning. I then just follow the links to each new post, until I’ve read them all. Rinse & repeat.

      • Ralph
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        If you aren’t aware of them, you may want to investigate an RSS feed aggregator. I use the simple (& free) one at digg.com. You tell it which sites & blogs you like to read, and every time a new item is published it shows up in your aggregated feed.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        Following on from what Ralph wrote…

        I use Inoreader as my RSS & News reader – very nifty!
        It has extensions so one can read it in Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Opera browsers PLUS there are free apps for Android & iOS

        Your individual settings & subscriptions are cloud based thus you can switch between viewing devices & pick up exactly where you left off

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:06 am | Permalink

          Thanks, both of you. I do all my reading at home, so switching between devices is not an issue. As Jerry posts several items each day, I don’t want a reminder each time a new one is posted. I find my system works fine for me. The only problem is that occasionally when I refresh or link to the next item, for some reason I lose my log in, and have to do a “sub” comment to get back in, otherwise I can’t see the replies reminder (the little bell top right).

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:35 am | Permalink

            Being randomly logged out: I used to get that a lot on WEIT & only on WEIT – no other wordpress site gave me that problem. I have no idea how/why the problem went away.

            You could try clearing your cookies – which is great advice when it works & bloody annoying when it doesn’t 🙂

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    The only thing I want to add is that I was a later arrival to the site and have enjoyed all of it. It is really, the only one I have time for on line. When I stumbled upon your book in 2009 at the library, I did not know who you were. The site was well passed 20,000 when I first stumbled on that. The attraction has been evolution and atheism at first but never forget the cats.

    The following is exceptional and all credit is due to you.

  8. John Switzer
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I’m retired and about year ago I found your site and now visit every day.
    I have never believed in any god or gods and was surprised to find that so much of the American population was religious.
    Thank you for providing a daily look at reason and evidence and cats!
    From Canada

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Yes, it’s funny how Canadians don’t always know this but I think it’s because we most often visit the northern border states who tend to have less religious populations. When I explain to my fellow Canadians about religion in the US and the denial of evolution, they are usually surprised. Many understand America has a more religious public life than Canada (the President says God Bless America) but they don’t realize how influential it is and how there have been so many attempts at removing science from classrooms and replacing it with religious hoo ha.

  9. Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I’m very glad that you started this blog. The only place that I read every thing, although I found about it a year ago.
    I wanted to request the whole PDF version of your response to the CELL. Do you post it in comments section or do I have put up my email address, I don’t know.
    Very grateful for what you do

    • Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Email me (just google my name and university, which gives you my email address), and I’ll send it back.

      • Peter Austin
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        Jerry, I noticed you have a personal Facebook page. If you add a ‘group’ page (WEIT group, or something like it) on Facebook, you can easily upload PDF’s (and other files) for you readers to download.
        That saves you the time of emailing PFD’s to individual people who request one.

  10. Posted January 8, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the hard work you do in keeping this site an engaging and civil place to visit. It is not often one gets to know a favorite author so well.

  11. John Coleman
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Please send the entire short pdf.

  12. Claudia Baker
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this. I started to read this b**g about a year ago, after seeing PCC give a talk in Ottawa last winter. It has become a part of my daily routine now, but I didn’t know the history of it.

    Always informative and entertaining, sometimes frustrating (i.e. yesterday’s talk of the gun culture in the U.S.) and lots of stuff about cats.

    And many interesting (and funny) people. I’m talkin’ about you, Ken!

    • John Taylor
      Posted January 10, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      Fellow Ottawa WEIT fan here. Missed the Ottawa talk because it was my son’s birthday. Maybe there will be another some day.

  13. Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I, too, am one of your very grateful readers. I I didn’t know of your website 8 years ago, but have read it every day (faithfully, religiously?!) since first seeing it several years ago. There aren’t many days that go by that I don’t talk with family and/or friends about a topic posted on your website. The quality of the information provided, and the commentary, is most exceptional: the gold standard.

  14. Greg Geisler
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    My first submitted comment but I’ve been an avid reader of the blog for a couple of years. I cannot sing its praises high enough. You are prolific, erudite and one of the most lucid thinkers blogging today. I don’t miss a post and your work is a much-needed respite from what passes for “news” these days. And you know how to run a Comments section! It’s so refreshing to read intelligent discourse. Thanks for doing what you do.

  15. Reggie Cormack
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I follow and read every article (even if to be honest some are a bit above me)and thoroughly enjoy them all. Your evolution from being purely an advertising vehicle to such many and various subjects is a delight.
    But what comes through very strongly is that you are a really nice bloke. Thank you, PCC(E)

  16. ploubere
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I too follow your posts daily. I’m truly impressed by your work ethic and how much you write every day.
    Another aspect of this site, I think, is that it has become a gathering place for people who want to defend science and rational thought against the growing tide of ignorance that, especially in the U.S., seeks to extinguish its light. We are becoming the resistance. Any Star Wars analogy is appropriate.

  17. Frank Bath
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    My day wouldn’t be complete without reading your blogs via twi**er and e-mail. An education. Long may it keep going.

  18. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Hooray for PCC(E) Prof. Jerry Coyne, Matthew Cobb, Greg Mayer, and WEIT!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      And Grania!

      I came here from Twitter about 2-3 years ago and stayed not only for the quality of the writing and interesting subjects, but the atmosphere Jerry creates in the comments section. It was a welcome relief after Twitter! Thank you Jerry for the ambience you create via your own character.

    • Posted January 8, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget Grania, whose contributions to this site are immense!

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        Heck, I forgot. All those trips you take would be a blank or lots of spaces.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Apologies – Hooray for Grania!

  19. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Well it’s probably less than a year since I noticed (and alerted PCC(E)) that the site was rapidly approaching 2^15 subscribers. So I think that 3^10 (=59049) is a reachable goal for the year (and 2^16 is a believable “stretch goal”).

    As of this morning, there were 44,690 subscribers.

    Oh darn – we missed noting the passage of the 6-6-6 number : 6^6 = 46656. Really, there is a crying need for at least one Satanist numerologist among all the godless atheists, to keep track of these things.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 9, 2017 at 3:35 am | Permalink

      Surely the 6-6-6 number would be 6^6^6 ? But that might take a bit longer…


      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 11, 2017 at 2:41 am | Permalink

        Something around 10^30 (= 10^(5*6) ). To mis-quote Quint, “We’re gonna need a bigger planet”. Might just manage it with the (currently) observable universe.

  20. Richard Jones
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    A daily read. I follow Hili and Cyrus with great pleasure and Gus too, of course. When our last cat, Poppy, had to be euthanized because of stomach cancer we decided that at our age we ought not to have another animal companion.

    So i get my cat fix from PCC(R).

    We do have squirrels feeding on the window sill, with chickadees and pigeons. We had blue jays soaring down to grab a peanut but they seem to have moved. And a snowshoe hare is a regular visitor in the back yard.

  21. Debra Coplan
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I am very grateful for this website and can’t tell you how much I enjoy it and learn so much from it. A real anchor in my life!
    Thank you!

  22. dabertini
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    And what a site it is!! It’s the only one i need!!

  23. Alan
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Just put the url in the box at sci-hub.cc (bless that Russian lady)
    Any paper you want at your fingertips from home!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      Very nice Alan – thank you!

  24. Monika
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    YES! This site is a daily must read!

    The science (and the critique of pseudo science), the food porn (there is no other word for those food posts), the cats (and all the other animals), the boots (I didn’t even know people are collecting them) and everything else are an enjoyable mix.

    Not to mention the Reader’s Wildlife Photos, I love those. So thanks to the fellow readers providing them for us to enjoy.

    Thank you, Jerry, for providing and maintaining this great site!

  25. rickflick
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations of 8 years of WEIT. I get a great deal of enjoyment from the articles and issues. It is also a great community to belong to. Outside WEIT, there aren’t many around me who would understand my skepticism.

  26. Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I really appreciate all the nice things people have said about the site, but I’m also a bit embarrassed, as I didn’t mean to fish for compliments by posting this!

    At any rate, what is clear is that what makes this site attractive to most people is largely the quality of the commenters, so let me repay the compliment by thanking all of you for participating–and educating me. I can’t imagine having a site without comments!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      As others above have written – I’m also one who READS every WEIT post daily – I do this fairly late on if possible so there’s comments to read too. WEIT is the only site where I do this & even when the subject is not among my core interests. Only possible because of the quality of the writing by the authors, the even handed approach & Da Roolz!

      So thanks to the host & the authors

    • jeremy pereira
      Posted January 10, 2017 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      Your (implied (sort of)) wish is my command. Here’s a comment with no compliments in it.

      1. I notice that the title of the screenshot is “An Evolution bl*g evolves” [my censorship]. Are you relaxing Rool 13?

      2. I notice at the top of my RSS feed is a post entitled “No more science posts!” I haven’t read it yet, but if it means what I think, it will make me sad.

      • jeremy pereira
        Posted January 10, 2017 at 6:33 am | Permalink

        It’s still a great web site and will continue to be even without the science.

  27. bobkillian
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    The three rules to maintain Intratoobs sanity:

    1. Never read the comments.
    2. Never read the comments.
    3. Never read the comments.

    Except … here. Thanks to this community, it’s civility all the way down.

  28. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to add – at the risk of blowing my cover – it’s clear that PCC(E) shows that you can be a scientist in the big ‘ol academic science system and seamlessly and freely say what you honestly think and feel, but importantly, that you don’t have to be afraid of repercussions in your career. Also, that there’s nothing *wrong* with moving from e.g. discussing the latest paper to wondering what the deal is with hijabs. Perhaps it’s just because he’s that good, but I can say there are some who keep quiet about things, or bite their tounges, or more likely decide that they “are here to do science”, and mask out other stuff – a form of self-censorship, so as to err on the side of caution and not offend the right (or wrong) people. Reddit somehow is unsatisfactory for this problem, perhaps due to the anonymity and it’s impersonal nature. Thus, this site helps such individuals deal with that other stuff, though your truly chooses to be ThyroidPlanet here, against the wishes of our host.

  29. Mike
    Posted January 10, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I love this site and long may it continue, its a good place to explore various Topics and vent about Religion.

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