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As Congressional Lawmakers Launch Blogs, How Long Until Science Institutions Take Advantage of the New Communication Platform?

Where once it was the province of against-the-establishment rebels and citizen media types, major institutions are now taking wide advantage of blogging technology to promote their message or to expand their audience. And it’s not just major media outlets like the Washington Post or the NY Times, even Congressional lawmakers are getting in on the act.

Here at, individual scientists and others weigh in, but recently over at Year of Science 2009, a consortium of science organizations have started doing it at the institutional level.

Yet how long will it be until other traditional science institutions and organizations launch blogs tailored to their communication goals, including museums and organizations like AAAS? As I’ve done talks in different parts of the country, I have recently noted an increase in the number of institutional representatives who say they would like to launch blogs, but are still figuring out just how it might fit into their overall communication efforts.

My answer is let’s figure it out and do it, because groups who want to distort the science on issues like climate change, stem cell research, and intelligent design are way out in front when it comes to using the technology. Just take a glimpse at what is going on over at The Discovery Institute, at Steve Milloy’s Junk Science, or at Tech Central Station, all places where rival “think tank” science has taken to the blogosphere.

In another example, some readers have likely already run across James Inhofe’s blog hosted by the Web site for the Senate’s Environment and Public Works committee. Inhofe’s “Big Oil” views on climate change, posted at his blog, are magnified in part by the heavy helping hand of the Drudge Report, which often links directly to his posts.

Inhofe’s use of blogging technology to dispute the consensus view on climate change is a page ripped from the playbook written by political talk radio during the 1990s. Inhofe’s Senatorial imprimatur becomes part of the echo chamber of conservative media outlets like Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity who continue to downplay concerns about global warming.

As I’ve written before, with political leaders like Senator James Inhofe and ideological safe zones like Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, is it any wonder that only 23% of college-educated Republicans accept that human activities have contributed to global warming, or that among Republicans the issue polls dead last in importance behind the estate tax, gay marriage, and flag burning?

Inhofe, however, is not the only lawmaker with a blog. Over at the web site for the Hill newspaper, they host a blog where members routinely post their views on key issues. Consider this post from New Mexico’s Jeff Bingham.

In sum, if the Discovery Institute, James Inhofe, and other members of Congress are taking advantage of blogs to target audiences and deliver their messages, how long till science institutions get on board?


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