Though perhaps I should have called this “The Old Neighbourhood”
Many years ago – in the early 90s, to be precise – I went back as an adult, after more than two decades, to the Cape Cod village of Woods Hole, where I’d spent three wonderful Summers as a kid at the end of the 60s.
It was a very odd experience.
In some ways it was brilliant, because the place looked just the same. The main street, the drug store, the ferry terminal, the boat chandlery, the legendary Captain Kidd pub, the old Marine Biological Lab where my father worked and the MBL beach were all pretty much exactly as I remembered then from childhood.
Except… that they had all got small.
The reason being, of course, that I had last seen all these places in 1970 as a nine year old. I returned as a thirty-something.
So of course they hadn’t really got small. It was that I had got bigger in between.
Partly because of stuff like this, some people like to say that You Should Never. Go. Back.
Not even to take a look around.
Now does that apply, I wonder, to blog neighbourhoods?
To blog networks?
Talking of which….I’ve just been back this afternoon for a look at many of our former home at Nature Network. Commenting there seems a tad slow – I see from the ‘Recent Comments’ page that the slight flurry of ones I left there this afternoon (after I’d found, to my surprise, that I could still remember my login details) are still all visible – but some of the blogs I used to read when we were over there are still alive and kicking.
For instance, Stephen Moss, who some will recognise as a regular commenter hereabouts, has posted an interesting analysis of Science Minister David Willetts’ speech (the same one Stephen Curry recently wrote about), while Lee Turnpenny is back from his world travels and is also blogging again. And of course our old friends Eva Amsen and Bob O’Hara are still there, as is Kausik Datta, who has been doing a comprehensive demolition job on the claims made for acupuncture (part one and part two).
I’m a celebrity scientist – let me out of here?
Now, I don’t miss Nature Network – and don’t even mention MT4 – but one thing that was unusual, and interesting, about NN was the occasional, errm, celebrity guest. Probably because of the Nature name, once or twice a famous name would turn up to argue – perhaps when they were being discussed, or referred to.
Two examples spring to mind. One is theoretical physicist, Nobel Physics Laureate, extra-sensory perception and homeopathy fan Prof Brian Josephson (f0r more on him, check out his own homepage). I remember a long thread where Josephson turned up to defend homeopathy, and argue at length with Stephen Curry, and others. Rather sadly, the post this was on has disappeared – it was on Ian Brooks’ entertaining (and sometimes entertainingly profane) old NN blog A Meandering Scholar, which is seemingly no more. [Indeed, all the older ‘no longer live’ NN blogs that were ‘archived’ now seems to have vanished entirely, and the links to them are dead.] Anyway, Ian’s post, which was called ‘Can we agree to disagree?’ [Ans: No] had a truly Epic comment thread battle, which I thought was quite revealing about the thinking of Prof Josephson, and perhaps by inference of the mindset of other defenders of anti-science who have actual scientific credentials.
The other example of a celebrity visitor that I know of is currently still visible on NN. It can be found on a blog written by Andrew Sun, which is still up, though it has no new posts since last Summer.
The post in question, from March 2010, was called The Most Hated Journal in Science? It involved a discussion of Medical Hypotheses, a journal long famous/infamous because it did not employ any kind of expert peer review (incidentally, that has now changed, according to their website). I won’t give away the identity of the mystery celeb, who turned up to chide me in the comments thread. You will have to go and look.