Jerry Coyne is once again complaining that his readers don’t seem to care all that much for his science postings. He spends significant time writing up some blog posting about a scientific finding and gets only a small handful of comments (many which don’t even address the topic of the article). But then he posts an anti-Trump or anti-religious article, and he gets hundreds of comments. When he complained to his readers about this, many tried to reassure him that they do indeed read the articles, but just don’t have the expertise to comment. So he checks the page views and discovers the same pattern.
Coyne shouldn’t take it personally. We saw the same pattern years ago when PZ Myers’ blog was popular. Myers would write a science article and get a few comments, then follow with an anti-religious rant that elicited hundreds of comments.
The problem is that Coyne has bought into his own activist rhetoric – he mistakenly believes that atheists, as a group, are lovers of all things science. But that’s simply not the case. Atheists, as a group, have no greater interest in science. They just want to be perceived as people who love science. They merely want others to think they have this great love of science because that’s supposed to make them look smart. Since you don’t actually have to read the science articles to generate the perception, that’s why so many of Coyne’s readers don’t comment or even read his science postings.
After all, consider Hemant Mehta’s blog. It appears to be more popular than Coyne’s and each blog posting gets way more comments. Yet Mehta does not post any science articles. It’s simply a steady stream of anti-religious articles. Mehta needs clicks to make a living and, as such, knows what his atheist readers want and will read.
Anyway, Coyne thinks the solution to his problem is to threaten that he will stop writing science articles:
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.
That should work.
Look, what do you think would happen to Coyne’s readership if he decided he was only going to post science articles from now on? After a few months of nothing but science articles, he’d begin to lose readers left and right. Because despite the posturing, atheists, as a group, have no great love for science.