My article on the growth of boobquake at the Daily Beast

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know that I wrote a piece for the Daily Beast on the incredible response to boobquake. I focus on the emails and traffic I’ve been getting, the media coverage, the power of social media, and the silly things people have created in honor of boobquake. Go check it out!

For the people who love number crunching (or are too lazy to read the article), here are some fun facts. Since the 19th I have received:
– About 2,600 new Twitter followers (follow me!)
– About 1,000 new blog subscribers through Google Reader, doubling my total. Yes, in a week I received as many subscribers as I did in a year.
743 friend requests on Facebook. Not sure what proportion of those are male…
Roughly 700 Facebook messages
– From April 19th to the present, 854,521 unique visitors to Blag Hag, with over 2 million pageviews. To put that in perspective, I used to get about 1,000 visitors a day.

Oh, and one more fun fact a friend brought to my attention:My name was the 72nd most popular search on Google yesterday morning? …That’s just flipping insane. Wow. …Wait, “Hotness: Mild”? Did I just get burned by search engine statistics generator? Hehe.


  1. Nick says

    Just to confirm your worldwide coverage, Boobquake was covered in an article on the front page of a daily newspaper today in Cape Town, South Africa. It also received mention on a few of the local online news sites.

  2. Sarah C says

    Hi Jen. I am one of your new readers, thanks to Ms. Magazine Blog’s article on Boobquake. I love what you’re doing here; I am also 22-year-old geeky liberal in the Midwest (although, I’m a mother so that puts quite a spin on things), and your blog is refreshing and inspiring.

  3. Steven says

    I was reading you before Boobquake, because you’re an interesting atheist blogger. I feel like I should be smug about being one of your readers before the Great Boobquake Of 2010. ::grin::

  4. says

    Is big fat hairy Congo Rats on all the new popularities. Most definitely deserved. Me personal success in that area is ta be #4 on google fer “gnome porn” searches, which just anywhere nears as impressive…

  5. Ed says

    You mention in the article about bad jokes about quakes. Here is another one for you.Boobs don’t cause Earth quakes Quakers do.

  6. says

    I was thinking the same thing, beamstalk. I even said to someone yesterday, “I was reading Blag Hag BEFORE Boobquake.” Let the snobbery ensue.

  7. Claire V says

    I totally read that as the “Daily Breast” the first time. Got boobs on my mind :)

  8. Introbulus says

    D= That cheeky Google! This turned out to be more of an experiment in viral campaigning, didn’t it? I guess when you do something as unique as Boobquake, you get this sort of interest, whether or not you wanted it in the first place. (And the fact that you didn’t expect any response at all probably increased the level of response you DID get, since people were then aware of how genuine it was). The fact is, if it had been an intentional publicity stunt, most people would’ve likely caught onto it based on the way you covered it, and disregarded it rather quickly. This is really why intentional viral marketing rarely works. People want to be involved in something unique, and when they discover it to be nothing more than a cheap advertising gimmick, they’re disappointed and leave, even if they really wanted to support what was going on, because it’s no longer about what they’re doing. In this case, however, your intent was genuine. And because of that, you’ve earned yourself some considerable fame that should last for awhile. ;) Well done. Even if the Boobquake results weren’t stellar, you’ve got us listening to you now more than ever.

  9. Andrew S. says

    I was linked from Skepchick before the whole thing went viral. I am so sad I wasn’t reading you before this because you’re awesome – I spent a few great hours reading your back posts and I will be sticking around.Also, mild? Shame on you, Google!

  10. blitheringeejit says

    Is it time for an “I read FagHag before the Boobquake” t-shirt in the Swag dept? Seriously, while I LOVE the ‘quake experiment and everything it stands for, it might be timely to point out that it’s only a few hundred years since Persians and Arabs were inventing a lot of the key elements of the modern science which Jen champions so wonderfully. Meanwhile, the most sophisticated “scientists” in Western Europe were still trying to magic lead into gold, and burning herbalists for witchcraft. What goes around comes around…

  11. James says

    Wow. Congratulations on entering the major leagues of blogs and atheist activism. I bet those grad schools are now wishing they hadn’t made such a huge mistake in passing up an all-star player.You go girl!

  12. says

    Earlier today I suggested a Jen finger-puppet from The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild, and linked. No, I am not connected with them and therefore not a shill, and therefore I do not understand why that post was censored, as appears to have been the case. (Caveat: it’s getting difficult to keep track of all the threads. If you could increase the number of Recent Comments in the sidebar it might help.) Anyway, those who don’t know Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild should google it and find it. Good stuff, not least for seculars: they classify religious merchandise under “non-secular”, which is the right approach — we’re the normal ones!

  13. says

    That’s pretty cool Jen. I bet you get to keep at least 1/3 of those new subs once all these people realize you’re really not that funny and it was a fluke. :0Just kidding. Congratulations.

  14. says

    Well as a regular reader of your blog well before Boobquake hit I can say that I (and pretty much the rest of the Atheist Community of Austin) are supremely proud of you. This is the kind of positive atheism we need.

  15. lola says

    Powerful Earthquake Strikes Offshore Taiwan April 26, 2010A Powerful Earthquake measuring up to 7.2Mw Strikes Southeast of Taiwan…WOW WOMEN ARE POWERFUL.. THE CLARIC IN IRAN WORDS HAVE NOW BEEN CONFIRMED;;AS TRUE TAIWAN THANKS YOU!! jokes on you boobs!! NOW WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY YOUVE JUST BEEN SHUT UP …

  16. Daniel says

    kekeke, you buy that, lola? I’ve half a mind to call Poe because that’s exactly what a knee-jerk creotard would say!well done!of course, the intelligent amongst us know that the quake happened before boobquake AND that a quake wasn’t exactly unexpected…

  17. Daniel says

    I know! it’s so awful realizing what religion can do to your country – the islamic world was ahead of the curve up until about 500 years ago…and then religion happened.Now they’re a thousand years in the past.This, ladies and gentlemen, is the fate of the western world if we let religion get a grip. kowtowing to the muslim world (which is ferociously in the grip of mysogynist violent fundamentalists) will only hasten the decline, but sticking with (and dallying with) christianity can oh so very easily lead the same way.

  18. David says

    There was a small article mentioning the cleric and women testing his theory on local radio (KMJ, central california) but I was two distracted in the car and missed most of it. Nowhere near the depth of any of the other coverage I’d heard before, just a ~20 second piece. (First came here for boobquake, I’m one of the 850k new people, but staying for Jen’s opinions and humor)

  19. says

    Great success on the #bOObquake Jennifer. Perhaps the quake occurred because some women went #WeaponsFree!. Keep up the frakin on the malignant #memeplex of religions.

  20. says

    On #boobquake day, the hits on my blog, Bastion of Sass, spiked at over 30x average/day which was awesome. Given the amount of free porn on the web, I assume that the increased hits were from people who wanted to read what I had to say about Boobquake and not to view my cleavage. I also got facebook friend requests from men I didn’t know which was sorta creepy.

  21. says

    As a Historian of Science/Technology–and to be a bit picky–a lot of the Persian/Arab stuff was built upon the Greek learning that had migrated into it a lot earlier. It is true that the arabs were pretty damn good mathematicians (algebra, haha!) and their observatories and astronomy were pretty cool… but there weren’t all that many “key elements” of modern science (like experimentation, the existence of vacuums, sun-centered solar system, gravity, etc etc) that were invented/discovered by the Persians and Arabs. Their really hip scientific development period was mostly between about 800-1100, after which, they became mostly care-takers.. It is also then around 1200 when the Western Europeans started importing this learning back (mainly through Spain–but also from Byzantium, which had never lost it…) and by 1400, Western Europe was again a lot more interesting in terms of the development of what would become scientific knowledge than anything going on in most of the Arab world.. The lead-into-gold shit–that wasn’t just a European thing either–everyone tried that shit.. (Arabs too..although not as much–since they had easy sources of gold..) and the witchcraft stuff really didn’t happen until after the reformation and counter reformation–and is more of a religiously motivated bitch-fight than anything to do with scientific research.. Sorry to go all overboard on this–but I spent too many years as a grad student and must take any opportunity to actually utilize what I learned during that torture..

  22. eric00000000001 says

    Your hotness = cayenne. And you have splendid boobs. And you’re smart. And you don’t have any emotional sky-daddy baggage. And you made a pretty sweet PZsquid t-shirt. It’s a terrible shame I’m asexual and you’re not available!

  23. says

    When I was informing a friend about your upcoming Noble Experiment, I realized the line: “a young blogger named Jen from Purdue,” sounded like I was starting a Limmerick, so, one Mick to another, here you go:A young blogger named Jen from Purdue,tested theories of clerical view,”Would a global ‘boobquake’cause the planet to break,or immodest girls shake only you.”

  24. says

    I live in Anchorage Alaska and it was mentioned on at least one radio station here. If I recall the DJ said, “I have never looked more forward to a monday in my life.”

  25. says

    I was a little disapointed to note that even though Fox news covered “boobquake”, not once was Jen’s name mentioned or credit given to her.

  26. says

    I was a little disapointed to note that even though Fox news covered “boobquake”, not once was Jen’s name mentioned or credit given to her.Well, well, they must have investigative journalists after all, enough to discover that Jen is not a Real American(tm).

  27. says

    Congrats on the Wikipedia page. My prediction is that Boobquake is going to be nominated among the best neologisms for 2010. Hope Michael Quinion does a piece on it for his World Wide Words.

  28. says

    Hi, a bit out of topic here, but how do I know how many people follow my blog on Google Reader? I work with blogger, and have teh webmasters tools, but don’t know how to do it.Thank you.

  29. blitheringeejit says

    To be even more picky, you’re actually *an* historian of science/technology. Competitive overboarding anyone? :)(And I don’t even have the excuse of once being a grad student – I’m just naturally a pedantic b******.)You’re right, of course – (most) scientists are the first to acknowledge that they are all standing on the shoulders of giants, and when I said “a few hundred years” I did mean “about a thousand”.But I’m not sure I’m with you on the witchcraft point – the popular conception of post-reformation witch-burning has been largely debunked in recent years, at least in the UK. My understanding is that the evidence for it in mid-Medieval Europe is much stronger, when the church in Europe was viciously purging rebels like the Cathars and setting the Spanish Inquisition loose. I think that’s contemporary with the latter period of Mid-Eastern leadership in science.You’re also probably right about a Persian/Arab drift away from primary experimental research after 1100-ish – but their caretaking was also vital for the later adoption of this knowledge in the Western Renaissance – so let’s be thankful to the caretakers and librarians too.I would also have liked to include something about what was happening scientifically/technologically in North America at the time, but alas I know nothing about it. Can you enlighten?

  30. says

    Herr blitheringeejit,The point about “witchcraft” is more that the accusation of being “a witch” was not at all existent in the early(500-1000) or mid (1000-1200) or even late (1200-1400) Middle ages. Yes, there were various groups called “inquisitions” to handle the Cathars and other various heretical groups (although the Spanish Inquisition wasn’t started until 1478–and it was a tool of the Spanish Monarchy–not the Church..)–but these earlier inquisitions were about enforcing church orthodoxy–not about calling people minions of Satan.Witch burning was pretty much an early-modern/Reformation era thing in most of Europe–I won’t speak of the UK since I don’t know the history there very much, and it has its own special religious history–especially in places like Germany and then the English colonies (i.e. the future U.S…). I had an instructor explain this to us that there are NO documented cases of anyone being convicted of “being a witch” in the Middle Ages. None.In any case–the lead into gold stuff was actually pretty coterminous with the scientific revolution–and the whole “alchemy” idea was not really distinct from science/natural philosophy at that time. In particular–it should not be surprising that these poeple were actually trying to figure out what they perceived of as “nature”–and it was strongly believed at that time that metals “matured” from lower to higher metals–just like plants and animals supposedly did.. so trying to figure out how to speed up the process–using natural methods is actually more like science than it isn’t.. As for North America–there isn’t much–since there were almost no written records… Can’t help you there… Finally–I agree about the caretaker aspect… and I’m very appreciative of Persian society… it has long been one of the great societies!

  31. says

    My understanding is that the evidence for it in mid-Medieval Europe is much stronger, when the church in Europe was viciously purging rebels like the Cathars and setting the Spanish Inquisition loose. In my own special period, the 12th century, I have yet to come across any mention of witches or their burnings in the primary sources. Cathars yes, but they are not the same thing. Don’t you mean the Papal Inquisition? The Spanish Inquisition are the folks who denied that witches existed, as witch-hunting would distract from their core business of going after the crypto-Jews, or sleeper agents as we would say now. It’s news to me that the Perso-Arabs did experimental science at all, as opposed to refining Aristotelian philosophy, with the big exception of astronomy. The medieval front-runners in scientific enquiry were the Chinese. Let’s hear it for Shen Kuo. BTW, tricstmr is correct, it is “a historian”, except for the droppers of their aitches.

  32. blitheringeejit says

    OK, see “not a grad student” above. I guess I’ve outed as myself as just a casual watcher of documentaries. I think, though, that astronomy is a pretty significant exception in terms of experimental science. And I’d also argue that Perso-Arabs made major advances in mathematics, which I guess doesn’t count as “experimental” science, but is pretty fundamental to most scientific experimentation. Not wishing to take anything away from the beloved Greeks, but failing to invent (discover?) zero did hold them back a bit.I didn’t really mean to argue that the specific term “witchcraft” was used by the medieval church – just that said church ruthlessly and lethally suppressed heresies of all kinds, and one of these heresies was the traditional herbal medicine used by ordinary village folks. Redefining common wisdom as paganistic devilry was a pretty standard part of the mid-late medieval church mentality, I think, and I was just trying to argue that this amounted to anti-scientific religious/political nuttery comparable to Sedighi’s.But as you point out, I have no idea whether this kind of suppression was enacted by an Inquisition of any particular flavour, or just by whichever local agents of the church were charged with keeping their population under the thumb. I’ll leave that for the properly-qualified, and go eat my humble pie.HOWEVER – since I AM a fully-qualified user of several British dialects, I feel entitled to stand by “an historian”:

  33. Philjo says

    Actually many native English speakers do aspirate their haitches and see the use of an before h as a hilarious error.

  34. blitheringeejit says

    I’d say it would be seen by most Brits more as a pretension than an error – which makes it even more ridiculous. But one of the fun things about the English language is that “correctness” is a matter of opinion, geography, class, nationality, history, inebriation level, and pretty much any other aspect of human endeavour.In this case, I was merely indulging in a little lighthearted out-overboarding. The English often do this when confronted with the non-English using English, but it’s not serious – just a childish response to having our language butchered daily by boxes like the one I’m typing in, which insists on running me through a US spell-checker as I type. Just be thankful we’re not Microsoft, or we’d be asking for royalties.:)

  35. says

    church ruthlessly and lethally suppressed heresies of all kinds, and one of these heresies was the traditional herbal medicine used by ordinary village folksAt best speculation, at worst Wiccan woo-woo. Find me a medieval primary source that makes the connection. The biggest heresy was not paying your tithes. Follow the money!

  36. blitheringeejit says

    Fair comment, particularly on the alchemy. I was citing it in a context which suggested that I thought it was philosophically anti-scientific, which was unfair – though the intention was to highlight how primitive Western science was at the time, in comparison to what was going on in the Middle East.I’m not sure quite what you mean by “the scientific revolution” – but assuming you’re talking post-reformation (what I would probably call “The Age of Enlightenment”?), I think alchemy goes back further than that in Europe.But I’m embarrassed to discover that the word “alchemy” actually originates from Arabic, which makes my citation of it in this context utterly self-defeating and stoopid. :)AFAIK the church never backed alchemy, or particularly persecuted it. I suspect that this is because it didn’t really work, so it was neither threat nor use – though the church may also have worried that damning it might cast an awkward slant on one or two of its own beloved miracles…Re post-reformation witchcraft trials – until recently it was widely accepted in England that a huge number of women died at the stake for witchcraft in that period, but my understanding is that recent research has found little evidence to support this. Many of those accused were acquitted, and the relatively small number who received the death penalty were hanged rather than burned. But I don’t do any of this research myself (bad, bad scientist!) so I stand to be corrected. Again. :)

  37. blitheringeejit says

    If there’s a shortage of primary sources relating to ordinary village folks in the medieval, that cuts both ways – absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.And following the money takes you to the same place, IMHO. It seems logical that the church would want sick people to give their pennies to the priest in return for some Christian woo-woo, rather than to the local herbalist/witch in exchange for something which might actually make them feel better.Not that I would defend wiccan practices, you understand. I’m only just getting over my last fatwah…

  38. says

    Aww.. not at all.. you are apparently a very good scientist.. you are more knowledgeable than most… I also find it hilarious all the “al” words that we have from arabic–Algebra–named after Al-Jabber (I believe-don’t know the spelling..), al-chemy (I don’t remember the reference”–but also “al-cohol”–haha.. the thing that muslims cannot drink! (not that all arabs are muslims, of course, but the vast majority are..!)Anyway.. by “scientific revolution”–I generally mean the sort of major take off in scientific knowledge that really started to take off in the mid-to-late 1600’s.. but could also be traced back to Bacon, Descartes, Galileo… Basically–some see Copernicus’s revisioning as the seed (something that would have APPALLED Copernicus… ) and then over the next 200 years or so, natural philosophy became the really hot new thing.. mathematics and astronomy and physics all got redone in ways that we would now find familiar… and after that got all set–you saw the later development of chemistry and industrial production (although the link between scientific revolution and industrial revolution–that’s very, very, complex–and it is less of a “technology=applied science” type of thing than all of these people were often interested in the same stuff–and often new science came about from abstracting from the technology that people were putting together and getting to work.. Anyway.. Nice chatting with you here! I’m sure we’ll see each other around!

  39. says

    I have to chime in with my “I knew blag hag before boobquake” claim. A friend sent me her link when she posted Atheist Barbie, So I snuck in by a week or so.

  40. blitheringeejit says

    Thanks, and likewise. I came here to carp and rant, and ended up learning useful and interesting stuff. Blessed (in a secular and atheistic way) be the blog. Nice to see Jen’s article syndicated to my beloved Guardian – their “Comment is Free” area is where I enjoy some of my most self-indulgent ranting. Some nice comments on this issue there too.

  41. says

    @blitheringeejit:It seems logical that the church would want sick people to give their pennies to the priest in return for some Christian woo-woo, rather than to the local herbalist/witch in exchange for something which might actually make them feel better.A priori reasonable, indeed, but absence of evidence IS evidence of absence, just not conclusive evidence. We shouldn’t make stuff up just because, as you rightly observe, we don’t know too much about village life. Of greater interest is what happened under Roman law (and consequently not in England). Under that law, the property of the accused accrues to the delator, which is what I would call a powerful TIPS incentive. (If the next Administration is serious about state terror against dissidents, this is the way to go.) I am informed that the typical German “witch” was the burgomeister, and the typical accuser was his defeated rival. It was not all about herbalists! IMO most of the witch craze in the villages (below burgomeister level) was about property inheritance. The witchfinder was an enabler to local disputes, perhaps not entirely unlike our ambulance-chasers. As I said, my expertise is mostly 12th-century, when there was no known burning of witches, zero point zip nada nichevo.Regarding algebra, that’s short for the work al-Kitab al-mukhtasar fi hisab al-jabr wa’l-muqabala of M. al-Khwarizmi, whose name has also given us “algorithm”.

  42. says

    PS, I forgot: Not wishing to take anything away from the beloved Greeks, but failing to invent (discover?) zero did hold them back a bit.Not to take anything away from the Perso-Arabs either, but “Arabic numerals” were actually Indian, transmitted via the Perso-Arabs. The Indians were the great mathematicians of Antiquity and the Middle Ages, just as the Chinese were the experimentalists and technologists. It’s quite frustrating for a medievalist, because the Indians didn’t seem to want to write about anything except religion and math. Unless they did and the bugs ate it all.

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