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Just a request to readers who have blogs: please update your links to this new website ( I’ve noticed that there are very few referrals to other websites coming in right now, though plenty of people are coming in via my Twitter account. Also, if you subscribe via RSS please point to That’s the easiest way to get all my content. Thanks.

• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Admin 
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First, a minor note. People have repeatedly mentioned my Pinboard in the comments. This surprised me, as the kind of things I bookmark for later are very diverse and…interesting I suppose. Out of curiosity I checked to see how many people had used Google Reader to subscribe, and it was 27! Anyway, if you want to see what I’m bookmarking every day, then here’s the RSS (and if you like that, subscribe to Jason Malloy’s Delicious feed).

Second, I want some reader feedback on a survey design. I normally ask questions on reader surveys about attitudes toward things like sex differences. I want to do something similar, but in more in-depth. I’d also like to ask readers about genetically modified organisms and other such things. The reason I’m putting this post up is that I always get complaints about the wording of questions no matter how precise I try to be. So enter in questions, and demographic variables, that you think might be interesting. I’m not a patient person, so I’ll probably put up the survey next week.

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin, Administration 
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I’ve been thinking that I should post about what it’s been like being a blogger for 10 years. 1/3 of my recollected life! (I recall fragments of being 3, but continuity of self starts somewhere at the end of my 4th year) Actually, I always assumed I would do this post in 2012 when I joined ScienceBlogs in 2006 and realized I could turn this hobby/sidelight into a source of semi-professional fulfillment. But now that the time is nigh (I started blogging in April 2002, while the original Gene Expression launched in June of 2002) I find myself procrastinating, ironic in light of the fact that blogging is often parodied by some as a form of procrastinating. I will say that whenever I have a “9-5″ (or, in my case more often an 8:30 to 6:30 at minimum) I don’t ever write for the blog during those hours (if a post shows up in that period, it’s a feature called scheduling enabling that miracle, something obviously unknown to those readers who stupidly ask “why are you posting now loser! Shouldn’t you be hittin’ on bangin’ chicks, like I am on Friday nights?”). So blogging is not a way procrastinate for me. It is a way to say what I need to say.

But in any case, something over at MetaFilter has prompted me to perhaps reflect on what blogging has become, at least for me. One Allen Spaulding observes:

So I was going to write a whole thing about how this isn’t actually terrible smart writing and that the whole thing reads like a B- paper in Behavioral Econ 201 at a second tier university, but I’ll let this quote do all the work for me:

Second, people who gain a Ph.D. at least know something of theoretical interest. This applies even to an unemployed history Ph.D.!

This is a weird cottage industry – taking obvious problems and using every available tool incorrectly to get clicks so you can sell more ads for penis creme.

Obviously I’m not going to defend my posts on law school as awesome pieces of writing. On the contrary! Yet I’m always aroused toward some curiosity whenever people criticize the content of these non-science related posts. For example, performed a routine analysis of GSS data, and someone in a forum like MetaFilter (I forget which) dismissed the results as something that a graduate student in political science might write as a paper. Here’s the point I want to emphasize: I did not spend more than 30 minutes on the post which the commenter judges as being a B- paper at a second tier university! Question: what’s the going rate for such papers? I could produce a bunch per day if needed. Similarly, the commenter dismissing my GSS posts as something a political science Ph.D. could easily generate might be curious to know that some of my posts of that genre are written in less than 1 hour while I’m killing time in public transportation tethering to my phone so I have an internet connection. The method is rather easy to replicate:

1) Question

2) Look for data sets to test question

Unfortunately not too many people find this practice congenial, so the niche is left to a few odd bloggers (e.g., Audacious Epigone, the Inductivist). Naturally, sometimes I do put a lot of effort into a post. For example, I remember precisely that this post took me about 6 hours total to write. I ran it through two edits, instead of my customary single instance. Though I have to admit here that my very long posts are really not creations de novo, rather, they’re a stitching together of analytic modules I’ve developed over 10 years, or, have had kicking around in the back of my head. Any novel inferences I might have are never obtained through the process of writing. Rather, they serve as seeds for the writing itself.

When I began blogging in 2002 the world was different. In a prosaic sense the general fixation was on the Iraq War and 9/11 (though techblogging predated “warblogging“). I quickly lost interest in current affairs for two reasons. First, I was way too prone to saying stupid things which were lacking in both substance and style. A move away from that domain of commentary saved me from my own embarrassment (e.g., I praised Michael Ledeen as a deep thinker in 2002! Yes. I was a moron). Second, politics and policy blogging has become sharply polarized and partisan. It’s simply not interesting, insofar as it has been totally co-opted by the mainstream media and political movements. I’m far too fundamentally misanthropic to be part of a “team,” so this sort of dynamic has never been a “good fit.” I just don’t get why some of my favorite bloggers sometimes drop into the typical partisan hackery of intellectual self-stimulation. But obviously it serves as a necessary outlet, and I don’t expect total mastery of domain from anyone.

Rather, in hindsight it is obvious that there are three broad channels into which my blogging has settled upon. First, there is the secondary commentary on scientific papers. Though I pursued this sort of thing in an inchoate manner as early as 2003, I was strongly influenced in this direction by my friend Dave Munger in the mid-2000s. Second, there are the long historically informed essays. The impulse behind these ultimately derive in my case from Zach Latif, who early on focused on discursive and meandering reflections on current affairs and deep history. Finally, there’s the social science blogging using the GSS and playing around with data sets & R. For this, I have to thank the Inductivst, Half Sigma, and the Audacious Epigone, in addition to one of my GNXP co-bloggers (you know who you are). I say plenty of stupid and wrong things in all of these endeavors, but I’m pretty sure that I have some chance of actually adding value. I’ve also divided my blogging a bit, as I’m a regular contributor (albeit, more irregular now) to two other blogs (you can find by backlog of other writings on the web over at

One of the main “problems” that I’ve encountered with the move to Discover is that people think I’m a writer for the magazine. This means that they expect me to be “writerly.” People also complain that my “articles” are sometimes not as well researched as they should be. The problem here is that the production of prose being generated in this space, blog posts, is qualitatively different than that of an article for the magazine. I’m rather sure that 99% of the writers for the magazine aren’t generating their prose invariably between 10 PM and 1 AM, in a rush, with only one read through after writing. On the other hand, despite the hurry and haste of this production it’s relatively constant. Additionally, the ends of the production are somewhat different from that of a magazine article. I’m not out to report or lay out a coherent and full-fleshed case for a specific thesis or phenomenon. Rather, quite often I’m throwing out slices of information and analysis, in the hopes that it will prompt responses which will coherently and intelligently fill in the gaps factually, as opposed to judge my prior normative preference. This is the fundamental problem with those readers who begin their response with “so what you are trying to say is….” As my posts have clear lacunae, they attempt to interpolate their own interpretations of what I’m trying to get at, but usually I’m really not trying to get at any specific thing! The gaps in my argument aren’t a bug, they’re a feature. Rather, I’m attempting to inject data into the bloodstream of wider discourse. Less pretentiously , I’m trying to convince people that it is better to argue with facts rather than their own self-serving opinions.

The process of dialogue isn’t always pretty. Though I agree in the abstract with Phil Plait’s plea that it is important not to be a dick, I find that unfortunately it’s pretty necessary to maintain proper order in the comments, which necessitates being a dick. The less time I have the more offended I get at textual flatulence. I particularly find obnoxious those commenters who strive toward seeming smart rather than actually forwarding our understanding of reality. My aims are pretty simple here: extract information and insight when possible from commenters. I’m not a total egoist, so if you follow the comments you’ll see that I do engage those readers who ask questions politely and sincerely. On the other hand I’m not very patient or tolerant of explicit or implicit thread-jackers. After 10 years blogging I’ve got a pretty good sense of that type. I also trace IPs, Facebook profiles, and such, so as to identify those readers who are switching handles to evade my attentions. I would say that about 50% of my blogging energies at this point are devoted to comments.

This sort of tyrannical behavior of course doesn’t always go down well with people. In fact, there’s a regular banter of complaint at my aggressive and intolerant behavior whenever my posts get linked from aggregators and outsiders see how I manage my discussion threads. The fundamental reason is simple: most people seem to outwardly disagree with my frank admission that I think most of the readership of this blog should keep their opinions to themselves on any given post, because they don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute. This stance leads to charges of elitism, which I don’t deny. Though honestly I think the accusation is too normatively charged; rather than there being an elite, many traits exhibit a continuous distribution, and these differences are important. Most readers are too stupid to be interesting on most issues, and some are so incoherent and ill-informed that it actually requires expenditure of cognitive resources to decrypt their blather. Naturally some readers get angry and tell me they aren’t going to read anymore because of this attitude, or they are going to complain to the editor. All fine. I don’t do this for readers, though that’s a positive externality (i.e., the world is getting some entertainment or insight), and the bosses here are Discover obviously prefer that I maximize my audience. But my traffic is sufficient, and most readers don’t even want to comment. The reality is without aggressive supervision the arc of the human social universe seems to bend toward idiocy & group-think. If being a dick is a way that I can push against this slouch toward mediocrity in discussion, thaen dick I will be.

Of course I do admit that I’m not that bright in any absolute sense. If I say something stupid about phylogenetics, and Joe Felsenstein verbally abuses me in the comments, that’s entirely acceptable. He knows his shit. Sometimes I need to have a sock stuffed down my throat in metaphorical terms, something that Leigh Van Valen had to do in a gentle manner here once. The older I get the more I am haunted by my own ignorance and lack of cognitive capacity. The only thing more depressing is the sorry state of the human race, where even those gifted with general intelligence are more concerned with signalling their erudition for the purposes of status, than leveraging that erudition in the interests of elevating the discussion before they expire.

I’ve given a great deal of time in this post to comments because of the things I’ve learned about blogging over the past 10 years, foremost is that the medium’s fundamental power is in its interactivity. But this strength also introduces weakness. You can extract from the readers very detailed specialized knowledge, or, you can read about how they are “First!” and would engage in vulgar acts with Emmanuelle Chriqui. Many of my posts are obviously inspired by questions in the comments, or are triggered by observations in the comments. Writing a book or magazine article is fundamentally different. That’s projection out, with minimal audience feedback that shapes the narrative. Despite the fact that many websites have comments sections, these are tacked on perfunctorily. There is no feedback power of comments back into the content-generation state. This is what makes blogging so different. Many of the books I’ve read over the past 10 years have come via reader suggestions. No doubt that’s shaped this blog, and my own viewpoints.

Obviously things have changed for me a great deal in the last 10 years in life outside of blogging. Much of that change readers have not been privy to, because it’s none of their business, and it doesn’t add any value to the information I’m putting up here. But, I did mention recently I became a father, because I plan to do genotypic analyses of my daughter.

What would she think of this blog? What will she think? I am now conscious of the fact that I’ve preserved in exquisite detail a record of the thoughts of her father as a foolish young man, predating her own existence by 10 years. I may be writing in this space as she grows into the fullness of her own consciousness. Would I have to explain the way I treat readers? How about some of the controversial things I’ve said, and propositions I’ve put forward?

The reality is that I don’t regret anything. I could regret my stupidity and ignorance, but such are the wages of genuine understanding. One must be wrong before one is right. My own goal in my short life is to understand the world as it is, not as I would wish it to be. Wishes are all fine & good, but the great accomplishments of human intellectualism are systems of the world which map onto that world, not systems of the world which construct mythical conceptual superstructures. I try vainly to swim against the superstitions of the age, though no doubt I am subject to many myself. I would hope to god that my daughter does not fall into the pattern of intellectual idolatry, bowing down before false propositions hoping for the adulation of social superiors and the validation of one’s peers. This blog is a testament to my own attempt to live that.

So where now? I have a whole “offline” life obviously, family, friends, academic pursuits. But in many ways I believe that this blog always was, even before it came into being. I spent the first quarter century of my life in internal monologue, struggling with ideas which I encountered in my reading, occasionally bursting forth on Usenet, or making a scene at a party, verbally bludgeoning someone or overwhelming them with a tsunami of fact (I try and maintain silence when I am ignorant, masking my deficiencies). Though it started as a hobby which I adopted in an absence of mind, it’s become a rather important extension of my life. This obviously does not mean it is my exclusive life, as some readers have mistakenly assumed because I omit many personal details (though if you follow my Pinboard feed you will notice that over the past year I was bookmarking many articles on fertility and pregnancy!). No matter my own personal evolution, I see no reason why the blog should not continue being an important outlet for my own thought. I’ve long ago stopped giving specific expiration dates for the blog. I’m not close to feeling burned out, and I kept posting even on the edge of exhaustion 7 months ago.

I hope soon to get a better sense of my time management issues. This year was rather difficult for me for reasons you can guess (I was preparing for my impending fatherhood), and others which I haven’t talked about online, though which my friends in “real life” are probably sick of hearing about. I just didn’t have the time to engage in “deep dive” analyses of papers which were such a joy for me in the past. I also plan to reboot my “genome blogging,” and see if I can discover something that Dienekes and Zack haven’t already touched upon.

Unlike Ed or Carl I am not a writer by inclination. In other words, expect more of the same, an idiosyncratic and sui generis engagement with the material, with no great pretense toward caring about intelligibility for the “person the street.” I find wrestling with reality so as to get a good grip upon it incredibly hard. I welcome fellow sojourners in this exhausting task, but I don’t have much patience or inclination to hand-hold. This is a brutal enterprise, where failure is most of the game. You will know that I’m “phoning it in” when you notice that I don’t verbally abuse commenters who verge on non-sentient. I only attack because I care.

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin, Blog 
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Chad Orzel may be giving up blogging. And no, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke. He’s been at it for 10 years, so no big surprise. I may be where he is at some point in the near future. For me, I always have something to say (or at least I think it’s worth saying!). But writing takes a little time out of my day, and many days I’m not gifted with a surplus of time. So we’ll see. I’ve been telling people I might give up blogging since 2004, and it just never seems to happen. But I never had a small person with whom I enjoyed wrestling with before.

Second, Sean Carroll has a funny post up on comment policy. Over the 10 years of running my own blog(s) I’ve shifted in my own perspective and outlook. In the beginning I was rather laissez faire. But it became rather obvious that most people were either stupid or ignorant, or, they took advantage of the anonymity of the internet to waste other peoples’ time. The biggest issue which I think some readers don’t seem to internalize well is that not only am I engaging comments, I’m also writing. This means that I’m spread rather thin, so the situation of me interacting with a given commenter is never symmetrical. So, to give a non-hypothetical, if I ask you for some citations and you spend 10 seconds, I’m going to get rather ticked off. I spend hours writing, and then responding to commenters who are clear and sincere. In contrast, other commenters do step up and add value when I ask pointed questions.

In real life most people are not worth deep engagement because they’re dull or incurious, or, our interests do not overlap (i.e., I’m incurious about their topics of passion). It’s no different on the internet. Sitemeter says thousands of people read the content on this weblog per day. The vast majority do not leave comments, obviously. I’m glad for that.

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin, Administration 
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Just thought I would mention that a few days ago the weblog Gene Expression has been around for 10 years. I won’t say much more at this point because of time constraints. But I wanted to enter it into the record, as well as admitting two minor points. I often used to say in the early days that my foray into blogging was rather a coincidence. I was playing around with the JSP/Servlet platform and wrote up a primitive blog software which I decided to test with my own weblog…and somehow one thing led to another. But I’m 99% sure now that at some point I would have started a weblog, and soon in relation to 2002. Second, of late I notice that Gawker is occasionally mentioned in the media as the locus for various politically correct outrages. If you had asked me 10 years ago that Gawker would be such a banal and conventional website I would have been surprised. The founding editor of Gawker was an occasional contributor to the first incarnation of GNXP in 2002. People tend to idealize the early blogosphere too much, there was a lot of stupid Iraq warblogging going on (I was part of it to some extent), but there definitely was some amalgamation of heterodoxy. Today the blogosphere reflects the mainstream media by and large.

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin, Gene Expression 
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I dislike cluttering this site with administrative notes, but I want to put this post up as a reference for the future. It’s not really aimed at regular readers/commenters, who know the explicit and implicit norms.

1) If you use quotation marks, make sure that you’re actually quoting something your interlocutor said, rather than adding them for effect (yes, believe it or not, people have quoted me, where the “quotes” were actually their own interpretation of what I intended)

2) It is generally not best to paraphrase someone else’s argument in your own words as a prologue to your own comment. Just quote the appropriate sections of text in your reply if you want it to frame your response. If you are engaging in paraphrasing to distill the argument of your interlocutor down to a pith, understand that subconscious tendencies are such that you’ll reshape that argument to better suit your response. In other words, you’re probably arguing with your own conception of their argument, not their argument as such. More maliciously some people just paraphrase because it makes setting up a straw man so much easier. That’s not nice. I have wasted a fair amount of time rereading posts to try and figure out how commenters came to a particular perception of my argument. I don’t take kindly to people telling me what I obviously really think, when I point out that their perception was wrong.

3) From that you can gather that inferring “between the lines” isn’t appropriate in most cases. It is part of normal human cognition, and you can’t help it to some extent. But being too liberal about the practice means that you’ll just distort the argument of the other person, who then has to waste their time correcting your misunderstandings. This gums up the exchanges because people have only a finite amount of time. Read as plainly as possible.

4) There’s no presumption here of symmetry. If the host asks you a direct question, answer and don’t evade. If the host tells you to drop a topic, don’t make the case for why you shouldn’t drop the topic. Wasting time trying to argue these issues is a banning offense.

5) I’m busy, and getting busier. I don’t respond well to people wasting my time. Some of the other commenters are busy too. It’s important to make exchanges “count.” Excessive posturing, and an obvious fixation on “winning” arguments with clever ripostes, are bannable offensives.

I’m not taking comments on this post, because as I said this post is more a placeholder so I don’t have to have the same stale argument over & over.

Note: See this companion post.

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin, Blog 
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This occurs every now and then…legit comments without copious numbers of links get caught in the spam filter. Regular commenter Michelle has had her comments tagged as spam twice since she’s changed her back-link URL to Scientific American. Today she tweeted me, and I noticed 4 other people who were also false-positived in the filter. To my knowledge these were all people whose comments I’d approved before. If your comment doesn’t show up after 24 hours (or immediately if you are a regular who has been approved already), please feel free to ping me via twitter, facebook, or email me at contactgnxp -at- gmail -dot- com. I apologize in advance for the inconvenience. There’s no way I can scan the spam manually, since there’s always thousands of fake-comments about how awesome my blog is in passable English to wade through. So make sure to tell me what your handle is.

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin, Blog, Comments 
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1) Post from the past: The biological bases of behavioral variation.

2) Weird search query of the week: “clothedpornstars.” OK, so now I know what this is. But are there stars in this kink-genre?

3) Comment of the week, in response to “Does heritability of political orientation matter?”:

” This is why heritabilities of being conservative and liberal can remain the same over time and across cultures, even though conservative and liberal can mean very different things in different contexts.”
Possibly, but there’s a physiological basis underlying the liberal/conservative bias. The latter has been traced to differencies in dopamine neurotransmitter chemistry which are innate to the individual:

This does not change with external circumstance. Accordingly, Liberals are feelings-driven and respond to political issues emotionally. They cherry-pick facts that support their pre-conceived conclusion. Conservatives are logic-driven, weigh all the facts and reason sequentially to a conclusion. Liberals cherish security; Conservatives cherish liberty. All else stems from those values.

4) And finally, your weekly fluff fix:

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin, Blog, Friday Fluff 
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So today I received an email from regular commenter German Dziebel:

Razib, what’s your relationship with the Discover Magazine? Up until now I thought of your blog as more or less a public forum, rather than a private franchise. Please clarify, so we don’t bicker about ethics in public.

I have no idea what German precisely means by “public forum” or “private franchise,” though I have a general sense. Discover Magazine pays me to blog. I also have an editor who I consult now and then. For example when I discussed traffic patterns to this website I asked if that would be OK, since I know that sort of information is often material sites like to keep somewhat private. When Marnie Dunsmore threatened to sue me for “stealing her ideas” I shot an email to the editor to notify him of her strange accusations. But in general my communication with Discover Magazine is limited to technical issues, as well as some exchanges of ideas and topics to post on (this isn’t formal, the editor knows the kind of stories and papers I dig, and will send me an email or point a tweet my way).

I like it that way. It gives me time to blog. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in my “task stack” which I never get to because of the pressures of time. When I began blogging in 2002 I did so with an assurance I wouldn’t have to spend too much time on technical or administrative crap with my co-bloggers. That didn’t totally work out, but it is an ideal which I like to aim for. This post is a violation of that ideal. I’m engaging in meta blather about comments policy and what not when I could be blogging, finishing the coffee I’m drinking right now, or watching the episode of South Park which I haven’t watched yet.

If I had to condense my summary for how I run these comments, I’d say I run this place as if I’m Sulla during the period in his life when he was the dictator of the Roman Republic. Since most of you probably don’t get the allusion, I will elaborate….

I have a vision for the type of comments which are edifying, or at least not detrimental to the project of greater understanding of the world around us. If comments or a commenter detracts from that vision then you are proscribed. Before I joined Discover I had a long discussion with the editor about the way I run comments. After a few hours of talking as we sealed the deal on the move I still came back to the comments issue. That was my primary concern about moving from ScienceBlogs. If didn’t have the freedom to bludgeon commenters when I deem it appropriate, I’d probably close comments altogether.

I don’t have an explicit checklist. I’m not going to let people “game” the rules of engagement. I’ve been aggressively moderating and pruning my comments since 2004, after seeing what laissez faire hath wrought. I have strong intuitions, and can sniff out future “problem” commenters pretty early on. As I suggested above I don’t like to devote much time to this, though as it happens I do spend a lot of time reading comments, reprimanding people, etc. A few people can burn up a lot of my time, and that detracts from the production of content. I once had a contributor to the Gene Expression group weblog who was a friend from college. Over the years of the weblog he has probably accounted for ~90% of the conflict resolution time which I’ve had to invest (I’ve been involved in blogs from 2002 on). Finally in the winter of 2006 I yanked his blogging privileges, and I’ve had to repeatedly ban him from commenting on my weblogs because he can’t help but be an asshole (I allowed him to comment a few times for the sake of our friendship, but he couldn’t behave himself). I don’t know why he’s like this, but that’s just how he rolls on the internet. I don’t have to tolerate it, and I don’t.

There is no philosophical issue for me with the way I treat people who comment. I am a person of the Right, I believe that there is a need for hierarchy, that humans are not the same and exhibit profound inequality in ability, and great difference in disposition. But I also believe that the world of ideas can be enchanting to all. I invite all and everyone to read and mull over the ideas which I explore in this space, but I do not invite all and everyone to offer their opinions. Some just lack the capacity or will to invest their time and energy with grappling with the topics at hand (e.g., they’re stupid, they’re ignorant, they’re lazy, or they’re inconsiderate, or some combination).

But others are in a special category of kooks. I doubt you’ll ever see a Creationist comment on this weblog, though you might if it’s really funny. That’s because I have to approve first comments, and when a Creationist shows up I usually send it to spam and ban the email and IP. I’m not interested in talking about Creationism. It’s a made up model for people with ideological blinders on. Creationists can, and do, read some of my posts and get something out of them. There’s nothing wrong with that. One of Phylis Schlafly’s sons links to this weblog sometimes. He seems to be an evolution-skeptic, but he doesn’t leave comments on this weblog promoting his views, so that’s his business. I don’t mind when very Left-wing bloggers link to my posts either. Sometimes bloggers take the opposite conclusion from the facts that I would, but that doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is when someone imputes their own norms upon me. This becomes an issue sometimes when readers, who reasonably expect me to be a political liberal like most science bloggers, take for granted that I’ll be on the same page as them when making fun of conservatives. Generally I will simply note that I’m a conservative myself. That being said, my offense threshold is high for political insults, so I don’t mind if readers insult political beliefs or groups that much.

Going back to the issue of German though, there is the nature of his kookiness. The original point of contention which triggered the email me is that I told him to stop acting as if his views were normative. By this, I mean that German has some strange ideas about human origins. That’s not a sin in and of itself. And German provides some interesting citations. Despite the fact that I think he’s really wrong I don’t mind him offering his opinions. What does bother me is when he presumes that he should carry on with his views as if he is the only sane man in the asylum. If this was German’s blog, that would be fine. But it isn’t. I don’t mind heterodox views, but if I’m on the other side of the debate, and you’re in the minority, you need to comport yourself with particular delicacy, understanding the nature of the audience. The world isn’t fair, and there’s no such place as a value-free neutral space.

If people persist in violating the norms and customs which I’ve long established on this weblog over the years, then I ban them. If they persist in emailing, as these types often do, then I block their email address. I very much doubt anyone is losing much sleep over being banned from a moderately prominent science weblog, so I don’t feel much guilt. I don’t mind if these people think I’m being unfriendly. I have friends enough as it is. If I ask you a direct question on this weblog and demand you answer, and you don’t answer directly, but answer evasively, I’m also likely to ban you. I don’t ask direct questions of people often, but since I put a lot of content out there, I feel that commenters who make bold claims should take the time to respond at length when asked by me to justify their claims. When the dictator speaks, you listen. Commenting is a privilege that can be yanked away.

There’s a lot more I could say. I don’t like to spend too much time at this sort of stuff when there’s real blogging to be done, but I do want to add something: if you use your real identity I’m going to give you a lot more liberty. People who are rude on the internet are much more likely to be “anonymous.” I put that in quotations because it isn’t hard to find the real identities of a substantial number of the people who think they’re being anonymous trolls (though often I look up the identities of people who are making technical claims which I can’t evaluate easily, as I want to validate their background or credentials)

P.S. I am aware that discouraging too much stupid back & forth in the comments probably dings me in pageviews. I don’t care.

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin, Administration, Blog, Comments, Comments Policy 
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If you’re a regular reader, you may have noticed some changes. Since I moved to Discover blogs I’ve been posting less and less here. Additionally, I’ve been putting some of my shorter less science oriented stuff at Brown Pundits and Secular Right. And I suspect twitter has cannibalized some of the link aggregation function of blogging in general.

So where does this leave this website? The archives are obviously active and useful for many people. Even without any front page content this blog serves 1-2,000 pages per day just as a function of search engines sending traffic to old posts. That’s important. GNXP could turn into an archive site, as I always imagined it would at some point, and still play a vital role in the information ecology.

But I’m not ready to turn this into a hibernating site yet. Kevin and David are still posting obviously. And, because of the traffic and the old links that come to this domain GNXP has good PageRank. My main interest then is to promote science bloggers whose content should “get out there.” So I’ve been soliciting contributions from people now and then with the promise that cross-posting will boost the PageRank of their site and give them some publicity. If you have a weblog with content that I think would fit the front page of this weblog, and are interested in cross-posting, feel free to email me at contactgnxp -at- with a link. I’ll add it to my RSS and see if it’s a good fit. If you seem a good candidate for front page privs, I’ll shoot you an email with the details about your login, etc.

Additionally, I’ve modified the column format some. At the top of the sidebar now are a set of articles which come from an aggregation site where I curated various weblog RSS feeds (as well as some google searches). And, there’s always my pinboard and Jason’s delicious. There’s also a footer column now where you can find archives, books, etc.

I’ll probably be tweaking with the format and what not every now and then. All things must change.

Speaking of using PageRank, the Harappa Ancestry Project now has its own domain, If you’re South Asian, Iranian, Tibetan, or Burmese, please check it out.

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin 
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A lot of people (including paying readers! kidding!) are complaining about the new commenting format. I’ll be euphemistic and observe that it’s suboptimal. But I don’t have time to work on tweaking and beautifying it now, so please be patient. Over time it’ll move up the stack of my priorities, and hopefully your awesome contributions to the discussion will be facilitated by a more elegant and user-friendly commenting interface by the end of January.

Additionally, I am thinking that posting “admin” messages in this space is also suboptimal. It uses space which should be allocated to real posts about science and such. If you’re in the minority of readers who actually cares enough about your blog-reading experience to gripe in the comments, I invite you to subscribe to/follow my twitter feed, I’m gonna put “admin” related stuff there from now on. You can also send messages via twitter. Email is fine as always, but if you’re someone who I don’t recognize, there’s a non-trivial chance that you’ll stay at the bottom of the task stack and I’ll never get back to you. I have my twitter feed on my Google homepage, so I am more likely to see random direct messages (as I noted earlier, I get a non-trivial number of messages from PR people, so it isn’t unlikely that I’m forgetting emails in the “none of the above” folder).

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin 
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Haloscan is forcing an upgrade something called Echo. I am not inclined to switch comment systems since this has worked since 2004. So commenting may not work for a bit. But blogging will be light from me for a bit anyway.

Update: The new comment system is working, after a fashion. But I can’t install it fully because if I do it will interrupt their migration of Haloscan era comments into the new system, so I will leave it be until they give me the go ahead via email. Despite the fact that the comments box states “0″ comments, that is not necessarily so. The new comment system is rather flexible, and I’ve turned on the feature which allows for trusted commenters to go through the mod queue. That means that after an X number of comments over an Y period of time of approved comments you’re listed as trusted. This will probably be good since the active comment community here is relatively small. I’ll start doing other things when I think it won’t break everything.

P.S. There’s a 5,000 character limit on comments. If you regularly go over this, you need a blog.

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin 
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There were some difficulties with the site overnight. Probably best place to check for updates is my twitter feed, 99% of the stuff there are just re-posts of my blog content. If you don’t have my email address, you can also contact me Additionally, I set up an aggregator weblog a few weeks ago, which is basically all the stuff from GNXP.COM, ScienceBlogs GNXP and my posts from Secular Right (just a feed of the “David Hume” author archives). Mostly useful for its RSS feed, since the links all point back to the individual blogs and comments are off.

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin 
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Received this email:

It appears your website has been compromised. When visiting (as opposed to regular http) Firefox prompted me with a message that the security certificate for snakeoil.dom has expired. After some googling I found out it is likely an authentication certificate for a virus.–

I didn’t have the same problem. I’m in a hurry, but I assume this is a client side issue? There isn’t an SSL certificate for this website.

Update: See this.

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin 
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Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been tweaking with the template a bit. The goal is to make the site look less ghetto and maximize ease of use for regulars and new readers. Using the site for the past day I have noticed that I had been using the big ScienceBlogs image to check my other weblog, so I added a small link to the right with a link to the other Gene Expression. The main other difference is that I added links to the various categories (“labels”) that we’ve been using for a while now. It’s messy as there are inconsistencies with spelling and casing, and I’ll fix that later, but if you are interested in category views, well, they’re back after a 3 year hiatus (I deleted the MT templates for categories years ago during one of the “server over usage” crises we used to have back when we weren’t being hosted by Rick & Liz. I never reinstalled them because it didn’t look like it was easy and I didn’t want to spend the time on that, but people have long wanted to have category archives).

Update: You can now send an email immediately to the author of any post by simply clicking their name (see above to the right of the post). There has been a contact link to the right for a while, but I just figured this would be easier for a lot of people, especially if (for example) the author of a study critiqued found a post via google and wanted to respond directly instead of in comments (which would likely be long dead).

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin 
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Just an FYI, Haloscan seems to be forcing a delay between posting a comment into their database and displaying it on the message board. Please wait a few minutes before posting again! Your comment might show up.

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin 
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I’ve received a half dozen complaints about the slowness of the site due to the technorati widget, so I’ve removed it for now. I see an improvement in load time. Yay or nay?

Also, to the right you should see an RSS feed logo from feedburner. I’ve always had a feed, with a small link provided, but I figured that regular readers should really be encouraged to use this. Of course, the RSS won’t tell you which comment threads are hopping, but in terms of maximizing time utilization I think it’s a good move. You can always bookmark the Haloscan thread of interest (speaking of which, anyone know a better offsite comment service? I don’t like onsite comments because they are liable to take a site down because of repeated hits).

Finally, for those of you down with RSS, I highly recommend adding a few Google News queries to your feeds. For instance, I have genetics & evolution always updating in Google Reader (which has some downsides, but I like the total integration with my google home page). You can see the RSS links to the bottom left. The PLOS network also has an excellent set of feeds (page down) so you don’t need to keep checking on their site for new articles (other journals have them too, but I don’t find them as user friendly or value added).

• Category: Science • Tags: Admin, Life Hacking 
Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at"