Science posts go unread. . .

I’ve kvetched before about how readers seem to ignore science posts, which started out as the heart of this website and are still dear to my own heart. In response, readers often say that they do read them but simply can’t comment because they don’t have the expertise. That’s fair enough and isn’t a problem for me. But then I decided to look at how many of those posts are actually viewed compared to posts about politics, food, and other stuff. Here are some recent data; I’ve chosen the non-science posts randomly, without looking at the views, and put up some science posts that go back about a month or so.

A false report on hijab cutting. Posted yesterday, 671 views. Leisure fascism: Vegan says that a carnivore can’t eat tofu because it’s “cultural appropriation”. Posted two days ago, 1147 views

Hybrid speciation in Amazonian manakins? SCIENCE POST. Posted Jan. 14. 395 views.

An academic explores the performative social construction of masculinity among South Texas Hispanics by analyzing the size of their barbecues and spiciness of their condiments. Posted Jan. 13, 646 views.

The magnificent obsession: man takes over a decade to design and build a Boeing 777 model out of paper. Posted Jan. 12, 743 views.

Trump denies making “shithole countries” remark. Posted Jan. 12, 1182 views.

Evidence that raptors spread brushfires to flush out prey.SCIENCE POST. Posted Jan. 11.  769 views.

Surprise! Pinker smeared again by those who distort his words. Posted Jan. 10, 6,591 views

The origin of human music? Male palm cockatoos use a stick to beat rhythmically on hollow trees. SCIENCE POST. Posted Jan. 9, 726 views.

Hybrid speciation in Amazonian manakins? SCIENCE POST. Posted Jan. 14, 395 views.

The Left: shut up about the Iranian protests or you’ll make things worse. Published Jan. 3. 1,763 views.

There is no monolithic “Twitter” that makes pronouncements. Posted Dec. 29, 729 views.

Editors of Science name the biggest science advances of the year. SCIENCE POST. Posted Dec. 28, 384 views.

Hybrid speciation in Galápagos finches. SCIENCE POST. Posted November 26,  708 views.

HuffPo finds marginalization, sexism, bigotry, bullying, child abuse, and exploitation in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer“. Posted December 25 1,182 views.

Even if people don’t comment on science post, this non-systematic trawling of posts shows what I suspected: the ones that deal with science, particularly research papers, aren’t read as often. I’m not chastising readers, for what interests you is what interests you, but it is a bit distressing to me. All I can say is that it’s infinitely harder to write one of these posts than it is to bang out something about the Templeton Foundation, cats, or postmodern academia. If people want me to continue dissecting science papers, they’ll have to at least view them.


  1. John Hamill
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    May I ask if these figures capture emails opened? I read most of the articles when they arrive in my Inbox. Would it be better to visit the site to enjoy them here?

    • ploubere
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      I was going to make the same point. I can read the entire post in my email preview, which wouldn’t count as a page view. I’m sure many others do as well. I’d suggest modifying your emails to only include the first few lines, and a link to read more.

      • Cate Plys
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        Me too! Often I read in the email, so that wouldn’t show up. When I go to the website, the posts are there in their entirety, and whether I read one would only be apparent, I assume, if I had the time to also go to the comments–and I usually don’t.

        • busterggi
          Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

          I’ll add myself to this list. Unless I feel like commenting I just read the email version.

          • Jon
            Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

            yes, same here

            • Wayne Robinson
              Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

              Well, I read the science posts. I just don’t click on the item itself, unless I want to read the links, which I admit I should be doing.

              • Cruzrad
                Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink


          • Ben Curtis
            Posted January 17, 2018 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

            Same here.

            • Posted January 17, 2018 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

              x 8

              • Posted January 18, 2018 at 3:42 am | Permalink

                I click on to the WEIT site when the email “isn’t enough”. This is when I want to see the comments section as well as the original post. I take it for granted that Jerry will cover a scientific point very well himself. The science based post can be very interesting but still “sufficiently covered” at email level EXCEPT when it gets into my own more specialized scientific interest areas (particularly Evolutionary Game Theory). Do not despair Jerry… we are reading

            • Reg Cormack
              Posted January 18, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink


          • Darrin Carter
            Posted January 18, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

            Me too

      • Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        Me also- I read most of the posts in email view. If you want us to actually go to the site, ask us. You probably won’t get full cooperation, but you are more likely to get what you want/need if you ask us.

    • greg geisler
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Ditto. I read the science articles more than anything else but it is easier, faster for me to read them in my emails. And I’m one of these people that if Isee a comment by someone else that expresses my thoughts then I don’t waste the bandwidth to post the same thing. But your science pieces are the main reason that I subscribe to your blog.

    • pali
      Posted January 18, 2018 at 3:57 am | Permalink

      I’d also bet that it doesn’t catch when a science article by PCC is simply read from the main WEIT site, rather than by clicking into the comments, which is how I read most of the science pieces – I’ll occasionally check the comments if there are a significant number, as that often means there’s a worthwhile discussion within, but for the most part I don’t actually click on the science articles even if I’ve read them in full.

    • Posted January 18, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      I do that also… in fact PCC[E] is so prolific these days I do not get to read everything, especially the weekend posts as I have no interweb at home…

      I avoid US only material of a political nature where I know nothing of the players/issues.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 18, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      That would require either an explicit “read receipt” (introduced to the RFC for email back in the 1970s or 80s, generally ignored), which PCCE’s mail system should know how to handle, or for the email to reference a hidden item (typically, a 1×1 pixel white image), stored on a server controlled by the sender. Email clients have recognised this spam and address-harvesting technique since the mid-90s. [There may other more nefarious techniques. I use NoScript to impede such things.
      In general, email systems are hardened against such Sammy techniques.
      If you read the email, and wish to RTFA, ctrl+click to open it in a new tab. Without that *explicit* *user* *non-accidental* action (requires 2 hands, or 1 hand & 3 actions), the website will not register a visit.

      Thank you, spammers, for making this necessary. I have a prying tool, some strong chillies, a washable table, and an interest in practical anatomy. And I am sure there will be people queuing up to join me in examining “The spammer; a humanoid organism”
      Oh, my box of ear plugs has arrived!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 18, 2018 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      There is a marketing concept called ‘spam’.
      Skilled (if unscrupulous) programmers have spent decades (literally, not either metaphorically, approximately, or figuratively ; in excess of twenty years) searching for techniques to benefit from unintentional user actions such as navigating to an email, causing it to be displayed on your screen. Short of a room full of equipment, a weekly contract for supply of liquid helium, and a million-dollar bill, your computer has NO way of measuring “intention”.
      The ONLY (non-accidental word; not to be confused with “one of several”, or “a”) way for PCCE (purrs be upon him) to be aware of your interest is if you open the web page FOR THAT DISCUSSION.
      Home page, no joy.
      Thinking “Professor Ceiling Cat” and turning three times clockwise and twice widdefshins -no joy.
      Singing “Hail Chthulu, fulfilling Eris’s role while she is on a beach somewhere”, then getting your cat to seat your mouse – no joy.
      Have I exhausted (dickoratingly, I admit ; for effect) the range of possibilities? I left out the ineffective options involving inflatable sheep and WD40.
      Start options. Click the link. End of options.

  2. David
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I think I read the science posts more than any others. They’re very, very helpful so I hope you keep them up!

    • Paul S
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      I read the science posts at least once because I usually don’t completely understand them. I rarely comment.
      I read them in a browser so I should be one of the hits in the list. FYI, I keep WEIT in an open tab with one or two others all day long unless I scan phar*****a. I always feel the need to clear my cookies after a visit.

  3. Diki
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    I do read them (err…mostly) but my browser view of your page means that I can read the whole post without having to click a link. Given the number of hits your site gets are you certain that there isn’t some undercounting?

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes, there might be undercounting in terms of total views, but I can’t see that this would be biased differently for science versus non-science posts.

      • jorgensen28ryan
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        I think the discrepancy is due to the number of comments on an article. Generally, on the non science posts, I click on the individual post to read the comments to see what people are debating, but, on the science posts, I read what you have to say in my email or on the main page. Personally, I don’t read the comments on the science posts because I take you as an authority, and I assume the readers can’t add much that you couldn’t (although, this may be a poor assumption).

        • Pliny
          Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          This was going to be my thought as well. I am far less likely to click on the science post comments for example. Doesn’t mean I don’t read the articles.

          • Pliny
            Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

            FYI – didn’t even skim the Matt Damon article 😉

            • Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

              Pity. . . .

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted January 18, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

              But … but … my gall bladder has been saving bile precisely for that article!

          • Chairephon
            Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

            I have lurked here for years. I read and love the science posts, but rarely click through to the comments on them. (Certainly far less often than I do the philosophical, political or religious posts.) The commentariat here is impressive, but my experience has been that the comments on science posts mostly echo my own response – ‘Cool’ or ‘Wow’ or ‘Great post!’ I’m happy to start adding those kind of comments if that’s what it takes to keep the science posts coming. Thank Ceiling Cat for a great website.

            • Posted January 18, 2018 at 4:19 am | Permalink

              No need to say “cool” or “wow” or similar stuff.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted January 18, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink


              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted January 18, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

                Sehr kalt!

        • Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          Exactly. Also, comments drive repeated visits, each with a dedicated click to view what was written. With that in mind, the science post do well.

        • Jim Swetnam
          Posted January 17, 2018 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

          That’s my comment as well. For the record I visit this site for both the opinions (which I don’t always agree with), and the scince (which I don’t always uderstand.)

      • danstarfish
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        I think the view count is actually counting the articles that people click on so that they can read the comments. I can read the entire article without clicking on it. I think people are more likely to click to see comments on a controversial topic.

        You could do an experiment where you put most of your science article below the fold and thus force someone to click it to finish reading it. If your view counts suddenly go much higher then you will probably get a more accurate count of how many people are reading the article.

        I admit I am more likely to click through to read the comments on a more controversial topic. On a science article it is more hit and miss whether I will read the comments.

        I think the view count isn’t accurate, but at the same time I would still guess that a lower effort post on a controversial topic probably does get read by more people than a higher effort science post. However, the view count makes the disparity appear larger than it really is.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

          “You could do an experiment where you put most of your science article below the fold and thus force someone to click it to finish reading it.”

          To be a fair test, this should be done for all posts, not just science posts.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 18, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

          You could do an experiment where you put most of your science article below the fold

          Yeah I get the relevance in an ink-on-paper context.
          What does that mean on a screen? On your desktop device?
          Is it the same on your mobile device?
          And on a device running a different browser?
          And on a device running a different operating system?
          On a third browser?
          In an RTL language (I feel that my next language start will be Arabic. But PCCE has some Hebrew?)?
          Or a TTB language?
          Could you be a tiny bit more precise in your question, so the programmer(s) have a faint chance of knowing what you mean.

      • pali
        Posted January 18, 2018 at 3:59 am | Permalink

        As one who doesn’t feel qualified to comment on most of the science articles, I can attest that unless I see a significant number of comments (which suggests a worthwhile discussion to read), I only read the science articles from the main page – but I do read them.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 18, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

          That counts *only* as opening the home page. “GET file ‘[blah]/[blah]/[blah]/” increases the “requested” count for “” by one (1). Which is what you would expect. No computer (Without a room full of equipment and liquid helium) has anything approaching an “intention” sensor.

    • Paul Monne
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Same for me. My wife and I connect using the same IP, so we’re likely two readers showing up as none.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 18, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        Off and only if you use the same browser, and the same log in. If your wife reads all your work email, and you share a Pr0nhub account, it might show the same. But using a shared connection …. easily distinguished.
        Counter example : you administer a university (call it Uchig, for giggles), with one address (why pay for more?). So the Chief Beancounter is indistinguishable from the janitor (leaving the students out of the question, totally).
        Your router (device for linking several physically or logically incompatible networks) is almost certainly doing what is called “Network Address Translation” (NAT). By design, this is invisible to end-users.

  4. BobTerrace
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I read all posts but read most of them in email or in Feedly because I can read the entire article without actually clicking to wordpress.

    Therefore, I would not show up as having viewed the posts unless I comment.

    • Kim Peters
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Ditto here.

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      But as Dr. Ceiling Cat notes above the very same thing happens with non-science posts too. Those who have to click through to see the science posts (I have to, most of the time) would do it for the non-science posts as well.

      • BobTerrace
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        But how do we know that 75% are not counted or that the more casual, non-science post readers are the ones who click through?

        Actually, I have lately been only skimming the regressive-left posts because I dismiss those people as not relevant to me (or will just make me angry)

        • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

          jorgensen28ryan up thread makes a good point. People who read posts but don’t comment won’t get counted and since science posts don’t get as many comments, they may be under counted.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 18, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      You have correctly described the issue.
      Only additional point is, WP monotor this in order to *charge* for display of adverts appropriately to the traffic of the site.
      PCCE only advertises his own products (book) on the site, so I deduce that W/O charge him for monthly traffic.
      I wouldn’t be astonished to find that there is an NDA about this. Nor would I be surprised to find that there is an NDA about the DNA.

  5. Ursula Goodenough
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Maybe not as many of us, but I for one value them highly. Don’t be discouraged!!

  6. Jeannie Hess
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how “views” are calculated. Is it counted if I visit your website and read through it? What if I send a page to a friend? Or is it counted when I open an email from the digest? I tend not to read the email version as it is not as easy on the eyes as your website.

  7. Chris G
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, it’s a little difficult to judge what you expect from this? Clearly the posts on science-papers are not as popular to this audience (I reluctantly confess I’m one of them) so what’s to do? We can force ourselves to read them next time, then trail-off again.
    Maybe our non-verbal clues show we don’t consent?

  8. Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Aye, and there is the rub. You use the word science as if it is monolithic. I am a retired chemistry professor. I have interests in that, physics, cosmology, human prehistory, and astronomy. So, many of the posts that were scientific were just not interesting to me.

    The Editors of Science magazine listing the biggest science stories of the year is yawn inducing.

    BTW I just got done reading an article on the evolution of dinosaurs and another on literacy in first and second century BCE Palestine.

  9. GBJames
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Just so you know…. as one of the seven hundred something of us who read the science posts, I trust you won’t stop doing them.

    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that reads these posts with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they did not read,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That read science posts upon the pages, WEIT.

    (Apologies to the ladies… I didn’t write the original. 😉 )

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:30 pm | Permalink


      • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink


        • eliz20108
          Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

          You said it just right. Dont stop. Some of us read the science posts.

          I read only the emails. I did not know that did not count as a view.

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink


      • Claudia Baker
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink


      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 18, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        eeeeeeeee !

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Cheers! Well done!

  10. Teresa Carson
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Like other readers, I often read your post in the email without going to the actual site. I haven’t been able to read much for pleasure lately for a number of reasons, but I was quite taken with the post about the raptors that carry burning twigs to expand brushfires. Keep educating us!

  11. Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, can you post stats for “visitors” as well as “views”?

    If a post has lots of comments, each “visitor” might refresh several times to read more comments, thus boosting the “views” a lot.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      I think this would make a difference. I get stats for first as well as repeat visits. Posts that people comment on a lot have the same people coming back several times because they’re responding to comments. Each time they post a comment, the page is refreshed and so another visit is counted.

      I read the science posts, but only once. I rarely comment or respond to comments others have made, because of my ignorance of the subject.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 18, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Hmm. I’m not going to try accessing my W/O site (or is it blobscrot? can’t remember) on the phone. Passwords are at home in ink on paper regardless.
      I’m not sure at all that a separate “viewer” vs “visitor” concept applies.
      If the file [blah]/ is “GOT” as part if the http protocol (or FTP, for Lynx users), Then that is a visit. Or a view. Or a bonobo. What the server “knows” is “GET instruction received. ; file sent, END OF INTERACTION, hang up connection.”
      A “view” is not meaningfully different to a “visit”. The server receives the same messages and only those messages. Nada, zip, zilch, null more.
      Unless you have the room full of equipment and the monthly LHe bill for an “intention” sensor.
      Even so, I’m not aware of the transaction in the HTTP definition that communicates “intention”.

  12. Bob
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I read almost every post, including the science posts. I have only commented on a handful of posts. I have not commented on any of the science posts because, though I am a high school science teacher (Physics), most of the science papers are outside my areas of expertise.

    The science posts are interesting to me because they provide insight into the way a distinguished scientist approaches and analyzes information. Sometimes the actual content of the posts are relevant but they are always interesting.

    BTW, I read the posts through the email news letter, not by visiting the web site. Your site statistics would not capture my activity.

  13. Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Somewhat inappropriate whining I think.
    Your posts on biology and evolution are fascinating to me but I’m extremely busy and only have time to scan the content and occasionally dig down into the full post.
    You are doing a great service in educating and spreading cutting edge thinking in evolution. And thousands of people are benefiting from it. Please keep it up!
    In fact, I recommend more science writing and much less cat writing 🙂

  14. Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Me too. I read in email. And, I read most of the science. I don’t often comment because I don’t have sufficient education, or “chops”.

    Much as I like cats (and dogs) I tend not to read about cats. I do tend to read about the other animals. I don’t read Mo & Jesus cartoons. I read some of the other cartoons with enjoyment. I pick and choose which of the religious, political and social issues that interest me; not all.

    I hope you will continue to write about whatever you want. You never know, you might introduce some of us readers to to mind-boggling new-to-us concepts or content. And, as long as you write here, I will be a faithful reader.

  15. Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I was tempted to limit my comment to “nice cat”, but I’ll add a few words.

    The most interesting posts last week were the ones about hybrid speciation and the origins of music.

    Like many here, I always read all of WEIT posts, but I’ll only open about a third of them in a separate tab. “Jeez, that was an interesting piece of news” is probably not a helpful comment, but I guess it would be nice to reassure the blogger of our interest every now and then.

  16. Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Fair comment, Jerry. And point taken. Please continue to dissect recent biological papers. Speciation is a fascinating are and more accessible to the citizen scientist than quantum fucking mechanics which holds me firmly in its heady grasp… 👣👣👣

  17. Steve
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I read every piece everyday.
    WEIT is on my favorites, so I
    simply access it in that manner

    • John Dentinger
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Me, too.

    • Richard Bond
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Me too, but I rarely have the expertise to comment. Also, because of time differences, a comment that I might have made has often been expressed already.

  18. rickflick
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Reading science is hard work. Even for those who are big fans. It takes me 30 minutes to an hour to read a typical science post. When I do have the time and energy, I’m very glad I did.

    Everyone has an opinion about politics or philosophy or music or cats. Science, you kind of have to know what you’re talking about.

    • Robert
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Exactly me.

  19. Mark Perew
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Many of us have tried to express that we read your posts in email and enjoy them greatly. Please, Professor, ignore the misleading web site stats. Your efforts are valued.

  20. Larry Smith
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Like many of the others, I usually read your posts in my emails, and only click through to the site in order to follow some of the links/videos, and to read the comments.

    But here’s a small bit of feedback.

    I will often scan through the science posts, and glean from them what I can. I may not remember all the details, or understand it all, but in nearly every case it adds to my wonder of the amazing world in which we life. I remember your posts about scallops having 200 eyes! The narwhal’s tooth! Awesome stuff that affects me and the people I share it with, whether in an email or a small dinner conversational tidbit.

    I have a friend whose teen daughter is heavy into ornithology. I therefore forwarded him the post on the manakins and he has shared this with his daughter. I’ve not heard back from her on this, but rest assured that you are sending these informational dandelion seeds out on the winds of the internet, and no doubt some/many of them will take hold and germinate in the minds of others.

  21. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I thought the best way to keep Science posts going is to ask good questions. But this is telling me if people just would read them, that’d help.

    I read them at least in email.

    As for difficulty – what if all the easier stuff got pitched out, so WEIT is 100% Science?

    Just a brainstorm. But lastly : I say if PCC(E) needs a break, then take it – in a good way.

    …. then there’s another idea : Jerry’s Journal Club – invitation only?

    … sorry autocorrect capitalized Science every time I have to go…

  22. Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    The science post views are lower than the others. I am counted among them and ask that you continue to post them.

    There are other worthwhile science websites and blogs, but yours has a niche that fills some voids and your scientific voice is unique, authoritative, and thought provoking.

    As long as you are able and willing to make them, I will continue to read them.*

    All the best, Dr PCCe

    *though no one cares about my input, I make no promises on commenting as sometimes the topic is far afield of my expertise.

  23. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Technical question. Does the click count continue to tally additional click numbers if you log in then log in again and again. In other words does it count me 6 times if I log into a post 6 time? If it does, this could be part of the problem.

    People tend to log back into certain posts many times to look at the comments and do not do this with other posts. The Science posts would likely fall into the only in once because there are fewer comments made. When a Huff post or political post gets thousands of clicks, I think this is lots of folks going in multiple times. I would not want a person/individual counted but once.

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      WordPress gives two stats, “visitors” (independent IPs/browsers) and “views” (total number of clicks).

      If you log in (same device/browser) multiple times the it counts as one “visitor” and lots of “views”.

      Thus a post with a large number of comments would be expected to have a larger view/visitor ratio than a science post where fewer people comment and fewer click to refresh to read more comments.

      Thus a comparison of “visitors” rather than “views” would be a better indication of how many read the post.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        Very good. So the professor needs to look at the visitors count and see if this does not improve the numbers on Science. On visits I would have been counted 4 times on this post already…but obviously only read once.

  24. Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Chalk up another email reader that usually doesn’t click through to the wordpress site. Keep up the science posts! And the boot posts!

  25. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Once I’ve resolved that I will not comment, I simply read the post “inline” on the main page with the other posts, then click on the link.

    Perhaps I will now click to the link now and then, just to flag that I have read it.

  26. Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    How do you measure ‘views’? Is it one per visit or one per reader? The more responses a post gets the more we hit refresh and that might look like more readers.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      As I said above. This could be throwing the numbers off a great deal if it counts every time you go into a post to look at comments.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      See Coel’s comment in thread 23 above. Pretty much explains the vast discrepancy between number of views of science posts and all others.

      (To be fair, an explanation already suggested by many other commenters here.)

  27. Brian
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Dear Jerry,
    I look forward to your science posts on a daily basis and do read virtually all of them. What I avoid are the reader wildlife photos and the cat conversations. I like cats but give me a break.

  28. Craw
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Confounded statistic. I read the science posts most of the time, but usually only once. The sexier posts I might read — that is reload — many times, as the comments go back and forth. I read — that is, reloaded — a recent page a lot as I was debating escalators on it.

    You need to count unique visitors to a page as a better proxy.

    • Craw
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Incidentally, the page I have shared the most, and linked on my blog, is the demolition of group selection you did a few years ago. That was also the post which drew me here.

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Excellent point. Me too.

  29. Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I think your most loyal and devoted readers appreciate the science posts most of all.

  30. Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Do you have any image tracking in your emails? As in if you stick a necessary image in a science post can you tell how many people loaded it in their email as opposed to visiting the site?

  31. sgo
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Maybe it’s been mentioned already, but there has to be some feedback, too. I make a point of clicking on the science posts for the (presumed) counts, but that’s maybe once or twice. The more controversial topics, or the ones where more people comment, will be clicked on more, if only just to see an update to what’s been written. So more comments generates more views, and I bet that that can go up quickly.

  32. Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I’m an email reader, count me in.

  33. Janet
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Well, ‘me too’, I often do not go to the website. Perhaps give a small subject heading in the email, which then clicks through to the website to get the article? This could be for all your posts, not just for the science ones. You may be pleasantly surprised how big the numbers become once we cannot read the whole post inside an email.

  34. gmaxwell447
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I read all of your posts (Sci and non-Sci) from Feedly. Does that get counted as a hit? I only click through to the web site if there is embedded media that Feedly won’t play.

  35. Brad
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I think your readers have pretty much clarified the real issue; most of us read the posts in the e-mail format rather than going to the WEIT site. I read ALL of your posts, which are excellent. PLEASE CONTINUE! I will start going to the web browser edition from this point forward.

    Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jerry,

    think about it that way:
    Sites also evolve, its true! So do readers, and writers.

    You started with more science posts, but found that they are possibly not read as much as the more political ones. So be it. I still read your science posts, even though I am not a biologist or an evolutionist.

    Possibly your science posts have more meat to them, at least as long as they do not refer to plants. Please, keep up both, if you can.

  37. Eduardo
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Keep them coming, please.

  38. Julian C
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I read all posts — but not all comments. Usually go to the post from the tweet that announces a post is up. Sometimes I just read the e-mail. No idea how I’m counted.

    But please keep the science posts coming. As others pointed out, they are enlightening.

    Hat off to GBJasmes, by the way

  39. Paul S
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    FWIW, to me, WEIT is free education from a world renowned scientist and is something I do not take lightly or for granted. Unlike most of your readers, I do not have a formal education and Ive learned a lot from your posts and the commentariat.
    I appreciate that you take the time to educate en masse and feel privileged to be included. That being said, for the time you spend researching and writing posts and what you’ve taught me, the very least I can do is to read them all.

    • Paul S
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      If only there was spellcheck 😦

  40. Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Can do!

  41. Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    The solution is obvious. Work more cat material into the science posts. I’m not saying to make all the science posts about felines. Just bury some cat asides in there. More cats is a good thing, right?

  42. Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    If the blogs purpose is to inform on science and science related issues (Trump?) then I think you need to ask yourself if you’d be happy with the number of views, amount of discussion or any other measure of the science posts success if you didn’t have the other (dominant) content to compare it with?
    If it were me, I’d have two blogs given the balance of content, linking them as appropriate.
    I just visited out of curiosity last week, wordpress for some reason automatically set me to ‘follow’. I find the precocious other content off-putting and irritating in my email and I can’t be bothered opening and skimming to filter the interesting from the not so….
    No doubt some people will find this petty, all about how I process things.
    Incidentally I am currently surveying Spartina anglica, which I think might be the first recorded instance of human assisted spontaneous speciation.

  43. Mike Anderson
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Internet companies like Google and Facebook make their money by getting people’s attention and putting ads in front of them. Their core competency is getting attention. Their systems learn what gets people’s attention, and they automated algorithms quickly figured out that articles that outrage get the most attention.

    The moral of the story: less science, more Trump. 😉

    • BobTerrace
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Now that is cray cray. (I did read that other post without clicking on it)

  44. Stephen Barnard
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    We can’t help it if we choose not to read the science posts because we have no free will.

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      But I’m supposed to be able to influence your brain by making posts like this (which I was also compelled to do by forces I don’t understand).

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink


        Chain reaction!

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        When I get a rise from PCC I feel like I’ve won, but that’s just an illusion. 🙂

  45. dave eberth
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink


    Your posts are rich, insightful, and, as a group, very well rounded. But, like everyone else, my time is limited, so I tend to cherry-pick among all the content. FYI, (and probably like many other visitors) I tend to visit once a day rather than respond to each email notice. This allows me to see multiple posts at a glance, especially near the end of my day when I need something else to engage my brain. And, of course, I sometimes forward bits and pieces of the sci-content that is relevant to colleagues.

    Anyway, there are many us who appreciate your efforts and the balance you bring to the table. Browsing your posts is a highly enjoyable and learned repast for this Alberta government paleontologist/geologist.

  46. Nancy
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Can’t believe you’re complaining about this again. Either you enjoy writing these posts or you don’t. Don’t do it if you DON’T enjoy it.

    I read/skim about 25% of your science pieces. I love to see the pictures of the countries you visit and I enjoy reading about their cultures. I also appreciate your opinions on current events. I read EVERY post you write re: free will.

    Don’t feel bad. I only read about 10% of what Sam Harris writes about.

  47. Austin Johnson
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    As with others on this thread, I almost always read the posts in my email rather than clicking to access the website unless I intend to comment. That being said, keep the science posts coming! They are my favorite, and as a university student I find them helpful and enriching.

  48. Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    While I can understand your distress, Professor, some of the science posts are over my head.

    My personal reason for subscribing is to read a scientist’s view on those “other-than-science” daily social upheavals. I’ve fled other sites to be here.

    Also, cats.

    • Dave B
      Posted January 18, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink


  49. Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:35 pm | Permalink


    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      I do read most of them. I sometimes skip the parts I don’t grasp at all. I’ve been trying to read every sentence in Sean Carroll’s book, The Big Picture, and it’s driving me bonkers.

  50. Ken Phelps
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    As we all scurry around before our dinner guests arrive, hiding the People magazines and casually tossing a couple New Yorkers and perhaps a slightly mildewed hard-cover Proust on the coffee table.

  51. Jake Sevins
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    How do you count a “view” Jerry? I read the blog directly on wordpress, and I skim some posts and read others more carefully. How can you tell which is which?

    Is a “view” only if I click on the comments section?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Please look at Coel above at #22 for part of the answer.

  52. Roberto Munguia
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    I am very grateful for your science posts. I teach Evolution to undergraduates and reading this website and Larry Moran’s blog it is always informative.

    • colnago80
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately, retired Prof. Moran hasn’t been posting much since he retired.

  53. Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I read most of the posts including the science ones, but I use Thunderbird as my RSS reader and that’s how I see your posts. I’ve often wondered if this gets counted as a page view or not. I usually visit the actual site when I need to interact with it like posting a comment or voting in a poll.

  54. Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Stimulating website. I am an avid reader of these posts.

  55. Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    I read mostly your science posts. When I do view a non-science post, I spend only a fraction of the time there that I do reading the science posts.

  56. Mehul Shah
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I prefer the science, nature posts over politics.

    Politics is covered by every news outlet, and honestly, I’m trying to stay away from it these days.

  57. Joseph O'Sullivan
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Somewhat counterintuitively, I like the science posts the most, but I read them the least.

    The science posts are fascinating and informative. They also involve some high-level science concepts that I need to recall from undergrad studies 20+ years ago. As a consequence, I’ll put off reading them until I have the time to devote to them that they deserve, which unfortunately isn’t often as I’d like.

    The other posts are interesting and the entertaining, but don’t require as much concentration.

  58. Joseph O'Sullivan
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    On a semi-related note, does anyone using a firefox browser have problems reading their comments as they type them? I get a doulbe print effect which makes it difficult to see what I’m typing.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Only in comments? Fixing font issues is a pain – so many causes

      If you are in Windows OS make sure “ClearType” is enabled globally & optimised to your liking. Turn off hardware acceleration in Firefox.

      Click on this MOZILLA POST for more things to try.

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like you may have a Firefox plugin that is causing trouble. I suspect that there’s a way to temporarily disable all plugins to see if the problem goes away. That fixes the problem then you can disable the plugins one by one to see which is the problem. Or I am completely wrong. 😉

  59. Dimitris
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    A different case, but similar pattern:
    I’m an ecology doctoral student, and I’m also managing the fb page of a local scout group. I was asked to do that in order to post studies/news/information/stories on education, child/family psychology, pedagogy, workshops etc and of course news & pictures from the group’s activities. While the first group of posts might have a reach of 100-200 people (who have or haven’t liked the page), posts in the latter group (e.g. a single picture of this year’s calendar) might have a reach of well over 3000 people!
    While this is also a multivariate thing, the pattern is pretty clear there as well.
    I get really frustrated by the lack of interest in things that can be important/helpful (apart from the fact that I find them interesting; as you said, that might just be me)

  60. Bob Bottemiller
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I am puzzled as to how PCC(E) can know whether or not I view his science posts.
    I read WEIT through a browser (Safari on iMac or, usually, Firefox on Windows 10 PC). Invariably I start at the top (I’m a Ph.D.) and scroll down to the bottom (and no fool).
    I read at least the introductory sentences of every dad-gum segment — admitting that a bit into some more esoteric genetic research results I may skip to the next entry.
    But, again, how could my scrolling habits be known?
    Keep up the good work even if you’re not sure that every “bon mot” is read.

  61. Susan D.
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Lies, lies and damned statistics! I agree that you might be being misled about how many people read your posts. I read almost everything in the email and don’t often click through to the site. I am more interested in the science stories and would not be interested in things like the hijab cutting incident. I read every science post, don’t always understand them, but I try hard! Keep up your posts. Frankly I don’t know where you get the time to do it all, but we do appreciate your herculean efforts!

  62. Dani
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Haha I loved the angry looking cat!! For me science posts are usually longer and I won’t have enough time to read it through and comment. It’s very hard to follow all of jerry’s posts!!!

  63. colnago80
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    I know that Prof. Ceiling Cat doesn’t appreciate suggestions as to topics to post about. However, may I humbly suggest that, IMHO, it it would be helpful to the readers of this blog to see posts on the anti-science attitude of the current administration. That many members of the administration attitude of members of disbelieve in climate change is well known. However, there are other issues that could be addressed. In particular, the fact that the Vice-President and the Secretary of Education are evolution deniers (it is my information that they are YECs), and in addition, the Vice-President is a denier of the efficacy of vaccination, as is his boss. A year into his administration, the President has yet to appoint a science advisor, a position that has existed since the Eisenhower Administration (Eisenhower appointed the presidents of MIT and Cal Tech to advise him on scientific policy after Sputnik was launched by the former Soviet Union. Hell, even Bush fils appointed respected physicist John Marburger to the post.

    • colnago80
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      I would add that the Vice-President is a denier of the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

  64. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Please don’t stop the science posts. There’s little enough reliable science commentary for public consumption out there.

  65. shelleywatsonburch
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Do you know how those views are counted? I have your feed in three locations: the WordPress app, Feedly and I get each post by email. Depending on where I am and what I’m doing, I may read your posts in Gmail or through the Feedly app. I wonder if WordPress captures those views? Speaking for myself, I’m one of those who reads and learns something from every science post, but I don’t have anything intelligent to contribute to the discussion.

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      Visits is the more reliable number but can still be a problem. Some sites count two visits when the same page is visited in, say, the morning and again in the afternoon. Views are even more problematic as they depend on a person’s reading behavior.

      It is reasonable to compare view counts between two posts, as Jerry did, as a rough measure of relative popularity. However, even that can be wrong if the likely reading behavior differs between the two kinds of posts, as one might expect between science and cat posts. Some people might consume a cat post within an email, registering no visits or views at all (probably) while using their browser to read a science post or vice-versa. For longer posts that I want to read carefully, I use a browser add-in which artificially narrows the page width. It would not surprise me if using that tool generates extra views.

  66. shelleywatsonburch
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Also, I will mention that I installed WordPress on my phone only to read your posts. I don’t think I follow any other site on WordPress.

  67. Charles Sawicki
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    The science posts are far more interesting to me than the cat posts. Providing educational material for a few hundred people is not a trivial contribution!

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      I myself am a non-scientist surrounded by non-scientists. This site & a few others (like Science-based Medicine) innoculate me against BS.

  68. Dionigi
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    I am proud to be among the minority group on your site. I read nearly every sciency post in my thirst to try to learn something about everything. Please keep them coming.

  69. Wayne Y Hoskisson
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    The viewing statistics look peculiar to me. There are now 52,903 followers the WEIT, yet the views are counted in hundresds. I cannot understand why there is such a discrepancy. When I subscribed I started receiving individual articles as they are published on the web site. I rarely read WEIT in my email.

    When my day is done I always sit down to read WEIT. For me this is like having a good and valuable friend visiting to talk about a wide variety of subjects. I rarely skip any post because the posts are always about topics that interest me. I learn a lot and I am entertained in an intelligent way. I love the science posts. I love cats. I love wildlife, food, philosophy (especially free will discussions), and politics. I enjoy reading about your travels even though I am inclined to travel very little. I am also in love with Philomena Cunk. I am not fond of cowboy boots. I have read WEIT and FvF and they remain on my bookshelves despite pruning my library from a couple of thousand to a couple of hundred in the last few years.

  70. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    It will help if everyone tells a friend, tells all their friends, to subscribe and read especially for the science posts. Tell it far and wide. I suggest to ask good questions and contribute to discussion- though I am no example.


    We all face a time to let go. Perhaps it’s that time – and give PCC(E) a break.

  71. ladyatheist
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    From the coloration of the text, I can tell you that I read the posts about the finches & the raptors & the barbecue & the twitter but not the others. I’ve been super sick and super busy at the same time but I do like birdies!

    I get my news from other sources so I was outraged by the news before you posted about it. My New Year’s resolution is to be less outraged, but it’s not going well.

    I browse NYT, WaPo, and google news every morning. I may have to stop doing that.

  72. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    “Hybrid speciation in Amazonian manakins? SCIENCE POST. Posted Jan. 14, 395 views.”

    ^^^^^this has two entries as written in the posting body. <-awkward wording.

    It’s a proof-reading error.

    Doesn’t change the conclusion.

  73. Hempenstein
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me that I meant to post the one about raptor pyromaniacs on FB, & just did. See if the views kick up.

  74. Charles Minus
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Okay, you’re right! I will read more of the damn science articles. I tend to look at the title and tell myself, “That looks good; I’ll come back later and read it.” And never do.

  75. Posted January 17, 2018 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    One last thing: If all you posted here was science, I would continue to visit this site religiously. (Not meant as an insult.) If all you posted here was non-science I would check in only occasionally (for LOLz.)

    I suspect others feel the same.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      Following on from comment #75 by darwinwins…

      Am I allowed to say “more science posts please” or does that cross the line?

      Evolution is one of the hardest things to grok & it needs reinforcement to stay fixed in the head. I would LOVE to see a higher percentage of science posts [SPs] – one SP a day or more would be wonderful! I realise SPs take a lot of effort to prepare, but I’m not suggesting the usual sort of SPs found here which are tied to a recent science paper. Very short refresher discussions on foundational evolutionary concepts would be welcome – kin selection, ring species, what is a gene? – that sort of thing.

      IDIOT’S GUIDES if you will

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted January 18, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      I would second this.

      I can get all sorts of intelligent writing about religious lunacy, pseudo-scientific charlatanry, and all the rest of it, from other sites (although seldom so well-expressed as by PCC(E)). If I was that way inclined, there is also an inexhaustible supply of feline-related trivia available elsewhere (although Her Highness is ineffable).

      What I can’t get in many other places is the sort of serious, detailed but comprehensible treatment of complex scientific issues that Jerry gives us. He is a gifted educator, and that is where this site scores over so many others. Please keep the articles coming!

  76. Lisa Rivers
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 10:12 pm | Permalink


    I have written this to you before, but want to say it again in response to this post you wrote.

    Since your emails include the full post right in the email, it is pretty easy for those of us receiving your posts in the email to read them right there, without clicking through to your site. I am pretty sure I may not be the only person who does this.

    Occasionally I think to myself, Jerry doesn’t think people are reading these, maybe I should click through. but it is so much more convenient for me to read it in the email. That’s why I subscribe rather than going to your site every day.



  77. Posted January 17, 2018 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    As mentioned by Aneris and others, the return visits to check on the discussion increase the hits for the political posts. It might be interesting to correlate the hits : comments ratio.

    I read every science post and especially enjoy the wildlife photos.

  78. Dale Franzwa
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    I read and enjoy your science posts but don’t always jump over to the comments section. I’m glad you continue to post on a regular website. Richard Dawkins gave up his web site in favor of Facebook. I hate that. FB is just too garbled and messy for me so I gave up on him. Keep up with what you’re doing here.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 18, 2018 at 1:03 am | Permalink

      No kidding? What a bummer! Totally agree with you about FB.

  79. Bernie Hernandez
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    Can you measure also whether or not we read your emails? Because, to be honest, this is only around the fourth time I come to your blog, although I read the emails almost religiously, even the scientific ones (pun intended, of course).

    • Posted January 18, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      That’s fraught with even more difficulties than the website stuff, alas.

  80. drawingbusiness
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 4:56 am | Permalink

    I want to add yet another voice to the “I read them, but don’t comment” outpouring. Also, almost all my reading of this site is done using an RSS feed reader; I don’t know if that is included in the view count for posts? As other have mentioned, I only visit the site directly to read comments, or see pictures in more detail.

  81. John Brett
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Dear Jerry
    I’m afraid this is all your fault,your blog is just too attractive to the likes of me. WEIT is the second site I visit most mornings (BBC News is the first but then I am a Brit) and I do so for everything but, most of, the scientific stuff which is simply beyond me and at 75 I don’t have time to even learn the basics.
    I think I understand your frustration but Do hope you keep things as they are.
    Best regards

  82. Neil Faulkner
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Just add me to the long long list of people who do read the science posts but rarely if ever click on them to comment or view comments. And I’d hate to have the bulk of such posts “under the fold” – one of the delights of WEIT is PCC’s policy of posting articles in their entirety.

    I at least skim everything posted here – except the food porn!

  83. Robert Ashton
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Others have said things similar but I read the posts in a daily email summary and rarely go to the ste itself. However, I do enjoy the science pieces, that’s why I originally signed up. I don’t usually comment because my scientific knowledge is inadequate. Keep posting the science pieces!

  84. Posted January 18, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    two things occur to me with regards those stats.

    1) already made above, is that those like me who read your posts in email do not register as a read in your count.

    2) those posts with lots of comments will register a new read each time someone comes back to comment. so one person commenting multiple times will register multiple reads.

    My suggestion, can you find a way to list unique reads?

    Or, subtract the numbers of comments from the read count and see if that results in a more equal spread.

    I shall also reiterate here that your science posts are your most interesting ones and the ones that I will most likely read, the ones that generate the most comments in your list above are the ones I’m more likely to delete without reading. I can’t read every blog post that arrives in my inbox and so I prioritise the scientific over the social commentary.

  85. walkingmap
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I know I’m just 1 of the thousands subscribed here, but Please continue the science posts. I do read them, I just rarely comment on any post.

  86. Posted January 18, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    As you can read the articles from the main page, I very rarely ever click on an article to go to the page, unless I’m trying to copy and share the URL. Therefore, your metrics wouldn’t capture people like me that don’t click on the actual article in order to read it.
    My Metrics:
    Except for a 9 month lull, I have been a 5-day-a-week reader for several years. I read your site while eating lunch at work nearly everyday.

  87. Brian salkas
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Your science articles are very high quality.

    I’m sure John Coltrane could have just played “Favorite Things” and filled any stadium, and who would have blamed him for doing so? But he did it for those of us who wanted something more. From your science posts, I learned about Mullerian mimicry, batesian mimicry, ring species, race as a biological concept (and the controversies surrounding it), Epigenetic inheritance (and why we should be skeptical of claims of Lamarkian evolution) and, more recently, polyploidy. And that’s just off the top of my head. I’m not going to get a degree in biology or anything like that, but your blog has informed at least a few other people like me who otherwise would not have this kind of knowledge.

  88. Posted January 19, 2018 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry, but this is one subject on which you and I will never see eye to eye. I apologise in advance, I do not mean to offend you – quite the reverse in fact – but my words have often been misunderstood.

    Tim Harford says that when faced by a statistic,, you should ask “is that a lot?” So I ask that question when faced with these statistics and my answer is no. In fact, the number of views seems ridiculously small. Given that you have approximately 50,000 subscribers and an unknown number of unsubscribed regular readers, even the Pinker article (which is an outlier that was perhaps linked by certain other sites) is around only 10%. Given the number of subscribers and followers you have, these numbers for views must be serious under reporting, probably by an order of magnitude at least.

    My second point is that it is a fallacy to assume that less popular is the same as unpopular. It is not. Yes, apparently fewer people read your science articles than your non science articles but the people who do read them find them valuable and informative. The Selfish Gene sold fewer copies than The Little Red Book. Richard Dawkins is still writing.

    My third point is that great art is not made by people pandering to popular opinion. Great art is made by people setting the trend, not following it. If you enjoy writing the science articles or have a passion for writing them, you should continue to do it regardless of the viewing figures. If you find it a chore to write these articles, stop. You have no obligation to any of us, you don’t even ask me to click adverts.

    In summary:

    – I don’t believe your figures are remotely representative
    – less popular is not the same as unpopular
    – Write what you want to write not what you think we want or what we tell you we want.

    Vincent Van Gogh sold one painting in his life time. Would you have wanted him to paint more commercial stuff? You are not Van Gogh (too many ears), but in terms of popular science writing, I put you in the same league.

  89. Mark Joseph
    Posted January 19, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    I sometimes (but not always) just read the posts in the e-mail. I figured I’d better click on this one!

    I’ll make sure to click on the science posts in the future. Which, it must be said, I enjoy immensely.

  90. Posted January 20, 2018 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Everyone’s talking about email but id like to mention RSS readers as well. Feedly, Bloglovin and other RSS readers don’t count towards page views. And a shit ton of people use these(including me)

    In my opinion, people really do skip scientific posts, but probably not nearly as much as it seems. Perhaps you could make a few polls regarding preferred content and ways of consumption?

    And lastly, I started following you recently, upon finding one of those science posts, they are the content I care about the most on here. I hope you don’t get discouraged from making them!

  91. Genevieve
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I read everything as an email.

  92. Posted February 4, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I guess that many readers, even if they didn’t exactly read the post about the manakins, appreciated it as a “Wildlife photos” post, looked at the pictures and enjoyed.

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