Blag Hag 2011 Census Results Pt. 3

Time to respond to some of your comments! First of, a HUGE thank you to all the wonderful, thoughtful comments people left me. I really appreciate having people thank me for the blog and telling me to “Keep being awesome” (a phrase about 40 of you used, haha). Looking down the list and seeing that most of you just want me to keep doing what I’ve been doing definitely makes me feel like I’m doing something right.

Blog related:

Post moar plz :P

This was one of the most common comments I got, haha. Trust me, there are days where I have four great post ideas but I’m stuck doing homework – grad school keeps me a lot busier than undergrad. But at the same time, I do waste a lot of short posts on tweets, I’m going to make a more conscious effort to keep those things for posts. I’m trying, I’m trying!

I think it is always very interesting to read about your family (Dad atheist, Mum theist, grandparents mustn’t know that you are atheist…) so I would enjoy more posts, but then, this goes into a very private area and I understand if you’ve got limits here.

Honestly, I don’t blog about it too much because religion just doesn’t come up that much with my family. Oddly enough, knowing some of my family now reads my blog has made me shy away from a couple of other topics. Is it weird that I have no problem talking about certain things to total strangers, but I’m awkward when it comes to my family?

As a scientist, how about blogging your thoughts on Mother Nature a little bit more? Or is that more PZ Myers territory?

That’s something I hope to do more of as my confidence as a scientist grows – maybe my Science Communication class will help. Part of me just doesn’t feel informed enough to write good science articles. And to be perfectly honest, I’m a little lazy. It takes a lot more time and effort to write a good science blog post than something that’s opinion based.

you could explain a little more about your studies/research.

I would love to talk about my research more. Unfortunately I can’t really discuss stuff publicly until it’s been published, lest our ideas get stolen by someone else. I should talk about what I’m learning in my classes more. I guess at the end of the day, I blog to relax, and I don’t really want to think about school anymore, haha.

I truly appreciate you comments on feminism. You give me ideas with which to shape my discussions with my daughter, son, and wife.

I really appreciate your posts on feminism, particularly those that relate it to skepticism But really, any feminism posts are filling a void in most of your male readers daily rss feed, I assume. As a male feminist, or at the very least a feminist ally, I think it’s nice to have the patriarchal bullshit that women have to face brought to our attention from time to time. We sometimes need to be jolted out of complacency. Keep up the good work!

Keep updating on your involvement in the atheist community, especially with a feminist bent. The posts about feminism in atheist might end up putting up the biggest bullseye on your blog, but I for one appreciate them the most.

LOVE the feminism blog posts, and I 100% agree with you on these issues. It’s seriously disturbing to discover how some atheists respond to discussing feminist issues, especially when I typically hold such faith in the atheist community as a whole. I really value your voice and discussion on these topics.

I very much enjoy reading perspectives that combine sex-positive (granted this is more subtle and not a main focus of the blog, but I appreciate having a skeptical feminist place that doesn’t portray all porn as they enemy of women), feminist and skeptic interests. Your blog fills a space that I feel should have greater recognition at large.

Nope, you’re doing awesome. I must say, I absolutely love the feminism stuff you post on your blog, but I really hate the shit that you get for doing so. You are able to put into words ideas that I have been mulling for ages but haven’t yet been able to fully verbalize, and I appreciate that. Keep up the good work, and think of the haters as simply giving more data for your analyses.

You have probably taught me more about feminism than any other internet writer, and these days – in large measure thanks to you – I am proud to call myself a feminist.

I got 38 comments exactly like these. Thank you guys so much – it’s awesome knowing what I’m doing is worthwhile and making a difference.

Don’t listen to those whiny commenters who start their blubbery bitchiness whenever you do something that dings their sensibilities. They don’t pay the bills, so they should just go fuck themselves three ways from Friday…Whatever that means.

Unfortunately my awesome commenters don’t pay the bills either. But thank you!

i have no idea if you really read the comment threads much, or just let them go, but they’re usually pretty interesting, when i read them.

I read 99.5% of the comments people make here. Occasionally people will get into deep philosophical discussions that aren’t really related to my original posts, and sometimes I’ll tune out on those.

I find some posts to be too US-centric. The underlying assumption seems to be that all of your readers are American. Please consider the fact that “www” stands for “word-wide web” (And America is NOT the whole world). People of all different cultures read your blog, it would be nice if you could keep that in mind. Thank you.

I do try to keep this in mind, but it certainly is a bad habit of mine. I’ll try to be better in the future!

I have a rather selfish comment, but since you asked, I might as well respond. Every now and then, you have posts consisting of a humorous picture, and some response to it in the subject or the post that can only be understood if you’ve seen the picture. As I’m totally blind, I feel left out of these sorts of posts. It may be that describing the picture would remove some of the humor, but if it can contribute or not detract, it would be helpful. These posts are certainly rare, and the majority of your posts are predominantly writing, and I enjoy those.

Oh crap, I never even considered this! This, folks, is a perfect example of privilege. I’ll try to be better about captioning photos in the future. Though knowing how forgetful I am, I will probably forget from time to time – I apologize preemptively to anyone this is an issue for.

Teen pop music should play when I come to the page and there should be no way to turn it off. Also you have a serious lack of pixelated gifs dancing around the page at random. Attend to that.

I’ll find a way to get Rebecca Black on auto-play ASAP. Maybe even a midi version.


Ask out the dude on the bus already, sheesh!

But, but, it would be so awkward! And the likelihood of him actually having things in common with me (other than just being cute) aren’t very good! Argh!

Friend me on Facebook :D

Sorry, but I stopped friending blog readers on Facebook – it was just getting unusable. If you’re desperate to connect to me via facebook, Blag Hag has a fan page.

Get yourself invited to go on “Ask an Atheist.”

I was invited! A couple times, now. We just haven’t worked out a date yet. One day, one day it will happen.

I’ve had an internet crush on you for a while, and wanted to tell you to boost your self-esteem. I didn’t know how to tell you without coming off as creepy. I’m 19, so I hope that you think I’m young enough to find this adorable. :)

Haha, it’s cool – I have my fair share of internet crushes too. As someone who was that awkward unpopular nerd most of her life, it does give me a bit of an ego boost.

Keep doin’ what you’re doin’! Also, stay in school! I couldn’t go straight to grad after under, and won’t be able to for a while yet. You’re living the dream! The exhausted exhausted not-enough-time-to-study/research dream. *noncreepywomanonwomanhugs*

Give up academia and concentrate on being entertaining and informative.

Haha, such mixed opinions. Trust me, giving up on academia has crossed my mind. Unfortunately, blogging doesn’t pay the bills. That and I really do love science, as much as a pain it can be at times.

Go to Dragon*Con!

Speaking tour of Australia?

Find someone to buy me the plane ticket :P

Just so you know, i’m finishing up my B.Sc next year, and am now somewhat terrified about the prospect of grad school. But on the plus side your scary spider stories make me laugh.

I’m glad you get enjoyment from my suffering :P

I just wanted to say, as an atheist undergraduate biology student, it made me feel really good to know you watch America’s Next Top Model as well :)

Oh my god, it’s like crack. It’s so horrible and against everything I stand for, but I can’t stop watching. I mean, what the hell is up with Alexandria?! I’m rooting for the plus size model or the adorable southern bell.

I guess asking for cheesecake shots would be labelled as “sexist,” huh?

Maybe a bit, but hey, since you were brave enough to ask, here you go.

I am drunk, in a french hotel, at midnight having attended the worst conference I’ve ever been to. Nothing I could possible write here would be coherent.

And with that winning comment, we’re done.


  1. says

    *comes out of lurker status* Awww, I wish I had added comments now. Or at least have been drunk in a French hotel when I took this survey…

  2. Rob says

    “I find some posts to be too US-centric. The underlying assumption seems to be that all of your readers are American. Please consider the fact that “www” stands for “word-wide web” (And America is NOT the whole world). People of all different cultures read your blog, it would be nice if you could keep that in mind. Thank you. “I don’t mean to sound disrespectful but…she’s an American writing about her life (99% of which is spent in the US). What other perspective is she supposed to write from? Thanks for doing the surveys, I love the smell of stats in the evening!

  3. loreleion says

    Cheesecake shots sound like a really awesome drink, but I’m guessing that’s not what was meant.

  4. says

    Is being a lover of cheesecake a mandate for awsome, atheist, feminist bloggers? ERV went bonkers over it on her facebook wall once :-)My comment is simply, keep up the good work. And please remember us trapped in the midwest :-)

  5. Vanessa says

    I would like to see you point out privilege whenever possible. It’s amazing how many people don’t even understand it.

  6. says

    I didn’t mention it in my comment on the previous entries, but allow me to add my support for your posts about feminism. It gets frustrating when people pretend that gender equality is no longer an important issue and it’s good to be reminded that there are still people who care about it.

  7. says

    I indicated in the census that I didn’t much like the feminist articles, but I’ve realised that they’ve played a major part in helping me understand feminism.Most of the feminist stuff I stumble across online is, I suspect, the extreme fringe of the movement, and it doesn’t make a good impression. This blog, on the other hand, tends to be considered and realistic about it, and while I don’t always agree with you, I see where you’re coming from and it’s had an insidious effect on me.The fact that it’s cleverly combined with criticism of religion probably helps.So yeah. I like to think I’ve become less of an arsehole as a direct result of reading this blog.::edit::I came for the boobquake, I stayed for the writing.

  8. LS says

    Jen took it very much in stride, but I must admit that I found that comment a little untoward. “Try to be less US centric” doesn’t need to be accompanied by acerbic remarks “explaining” that the US isn’t the whole world.

  9. says

    On the note of captioning pictures, don’t forget to do the same for videos. I’m partially deaf and have sensory processing disorder, so I can’t always hear them, and I’m grateful always to blogs which caption videos.

  10. says

    Hmm…1) First, make alcoholic custard that won’t curdle. (does that exist?)2) 3/4 fill a shot glass with 1)3) Fill the rest with strawberry or raspberry liqueur4) (optional) Garnish with a tiny dollop of whipped cream and a chocolate shaving5) Serve.6) Tell me about it. ^_^

  11. says

    Also, you could possibly replace 1) with eggnog, but I don’t like eggnog.Non-curdling bacardi-infused custard would be my preference. Maybe mailbu?I’m just not sure if it’s possible to do that without making the custard curdle.That should be an interesting experiment for someone.

  12. says

    Hurray! I’m glad my comment gave you warm fuzzies – I hoped it would. I’d like to reiterate my love for the feminism featured in this blog, and the pointing out of privilege that most people take for granted. That gives ME warm fuzzies. So we’re just covered in warm fuzzies now I guess. Hurray puppies!

  13. says

    For accessibility – google for webpage accessibility and once you have a rough idea of what’s needed, read the advice of the big guys:… . This is a dense document to handle accessibility requirements at the level that a government or massive multi-national corp would care.You do not even need to caption the picture if that would ruin the joke for your sighted audience. Most screen-readers read out the alt-text of an image. Specifically, see… and….As for writing science articles – what helped me was defining an audience (or audiences). I usually have 3 audience classes: my fiancee’s sister in middle school, her high school brother and my fiancee herself (who majored in chemistry as opposed to my comp sci degree). Once I pick an audience, it is then easier to pick a topic. I discovered that people tend to catch on quick that you are explaining something to a certain level and are forgiving of simplifications that I having trouble justifying. They aren’t your adviser looking at tearing apart your scientific post for the mildest of “flaws”. If an actual confusion arises, that’s ok! It’s the internet – make a follow up post for the now refined audience which you can better target and hyperlink to it from your original post as an update.(shameless plug) (/shameless plug) was my effort at being a mild mannered PZ for my intended audience. It’s worked well for me so far and it’s really satisfying getting a close friend or a co-worker who doesn’t understand radiation or who had an aunt who uses homeopathy but never really thought about it to understand a topic and act upon it. These are smart people who just hadn’t cared to look something up because they didn’t think it mattered. Please science blog more! Don’t be afraid or shy about it. You have influence. You have a good audience. The work you do here would far eclipse your grad school contribution in terms of the net elevation general consciousness to scientific knowledge.

  14. Rollingforest says

    This is a good idea IF you provide evidence of said privilege (which, by the way, I think was done in the example of the blind person above). Too many times the ideology of privilege is accepted without good evidence and that’s a problem for any skeptic. It’s what we expect from everyone else and feminists can do it too. If someone criticizes something that a feminist says and you think that person is wrong, prove them wrong, don’t just sneer at them.

  15. says

    I want to second (or tenth or whatever) the liking of posts on feminism. I am an engineering graduate student. I have no formal education in women’s studies or feminism or any such thing. In undergrad and before I definitely accepted that women were people and equal to men, but there was a great deal of privilege that I was completely unaware of and even some budding MRA-style resentments. It’s due to bloggers like you, Amanda Marcotte, and several others at Feministing and Feministe that I am not a total douchebag Nice Guy or PUA. Those posts are making the world a better place.

  16. breadbox says

    Is it weird that I have no problem talking about certain things to total strangers, but I’m awkward when it comes to my family?

    If my experience in life is any measure, it’s more like the exact opposite of weird.

  17. says

    It’s actually quite crazy how they end up using it. You should meet some of the dudes I went to college with – took notes, wrote code, compiled and debugged kernels using screen readers. Jen can appreciate this — just imagine debugging python code without being able to see it. Now.. imagine it being C code, and you only have gdb… and its 6000 lines of C code that is a real x86 kernel.

  18. Peta says

    I used to quite like the sex positive stuff too, and the feminist stuff. Probs should’ve metioned that in the survey :pAlso thought that US centric comment was crap. I’m from Aus, but I still enjoy posts about US politics, even if they are baffling…

  19. Lauren says

    “What other persepective is she meant to write from?”Requesting that Jen be aware of being US-centric doesn’t mean “Stop writing about the US” . It means, for the most part, if you are going to write about something culturally specific to the US add an explanatory sentence or a link to say who a person is, what a person is famous for, what the connotations associated with a particular place or thing are etc. etc. This is most necessary when writing about politics or the religious make-up of a particular area of the US.As somebody not from the US, I have in the past been driven away from blogs and forums I would have otherwise enjoyed because I simply didn’t understand what people were talking about. For the most part, I have no trouble with Blag Hag, but I think it is something USians interacting on the internet are often terribly unaware of.I think, seeing as the “privilege” topic has come up later in these comments, I’d like to add that there is a certain grain of truth to “US privilege” on the internet. It might not be on the same level as hearing/ sighted/ able/ male/ white privilege etc, but it does exist and I think attention does need to be drawn to it from time to time.

  20. Johann says

    ^ That. I’m not a professional website designer or anything like that, but all I’ve heard points to alt-text being the industry standard workaround for screen-readers and similar accessibility software.

  21. says

    I didn’t find the request to be bad because of what the person was asking for, I just didn’t like the condescending way in which it was asked. Firstly, Jen is under no obligation to make her blog all things to all people. She offered the survey partially to get reader feedback and be more inclusive and that response was unnecessarily patronizing.

  22. kiwiyogurt says

    Yeah, ditto. I was going to post about image captions being as easy as alt-text, but here’s an even better in-depth post.

  23. Serenegoose says

    Looking at the census results reminded me how much I love graphs and statistics of things I’m interested in, and someone educated enough to point out neat correlations and stuff. On that note, I would love more topics that involve graphs and demographics and stuff please. For Science! I would have wrote this down in the relevant place in the census, but like I said, seeing the results is what reminded me in the first place!

  24. Niki M. says

    Maybe it’s US-centric of me, but when I read blogs or listen to podcasts based in other countries, and I hear about people or political parties or government agencies or cultural nuances that I’ve never heard of, I look them up. If I’m not clear about a concept, I’ll ask. I’m listening and reading them to get a new perspective outside of what I know, I’m doing it on the Internet, where information is in abundance, and I’m not afraid of a little extra Google searching to understand what information I’m receiving. Just the thought of asking say, the crew of the Skeptic Zone to be less “Australia-centric” would be seen as just being silly, this comment/request doesn’t make sense to me either.There’s being fair and inclusive (i.e. captions for the blind readers/transcripts of videos for deaf readers) and then there’s just…asking a bit much from someone who, at least from what I’m reading, already tries her darndest. We readers have to give a little bit too.

  25. CRenwick says

    That cheese cake photo made me hungryAlso, I too like the feminist blog posts. I consider myself pretty enlightened but still you catch me enjoying my entitlement. Try as I might, my perspective is still a privileged one. I like it when your writing stops me and I have to say “I didn’t know doing X could be seen as….”. I think you are changing my behaviour for the better, and my wife, son and two daughters will benefit too. Keep up the good work, I don’t know how you find the time.

  26. Charon says

    “I look them up”Yeah, seriously. I never expected Monty Python to explain who the hell Reginald Maudling was.And how are Americans supposed to guess exactly what their non-American readers don’t know? Do they know Obama – very likely. Scott Walker – probably not, but most Americans hadn’t heard of him either, until the recent news. Hilary Clinton – probably. Steven Chu – probably not, but I’m attempting to judge the international fame of two cabinet secretaries, one of whom was married to a former US President and another of whom won the Nobel prize.In fact, one runs into the same problem (albeit not as bad) with domestic readers. No American has heard of every American politician, scientist, or pop star. But, this is the internets! Use the Google, and the Wikipedia!

  27. Charon says

    As for feminism, I think it’s important to talk about, although in a moment of irritability I said I didn’t like those posts. What I don’t like is actually the extreme emotion that surrounds them. People get horribly upset about this stuff, and when people get that upset, their brains turn off.Since that’s much more the case with the comments than with Jen, perhaps I should just read those posts, and not the associated comments… I mean, I never read comments on any political blogs, so…To be clear, I understand why these topics can make people upset. But in order to convince anyone who doesn’t already agree with you of your cause, you have to pull back and be reasonable. (This applies on all sides of the debate, although I personally am most sympathetic to the moderate feminist view.)

  28. Georgia Sam says

    Love your response to the “cheesecake” comment. It’s a perfect example of why I enjoy your blog so much.

  29. the_Siliconopolitan says

    “I would love to talk about my research more. Unfortunately I can’t really discuss stuff publicly until it’s been published, lest our ideas get stolen by someone else. I should talk about what I’m learning in my classes more. I guess at the end of the day, I blog to relax, and I don’t really want to think about school anymore, haha.”Boo. I still want some Python and statistics for dumb dummies.

  30. says

    Shit man, I never thought when I complained into a survey about being stuck in a french hotel it would end up the closing comment for the post on the subsequent analysis. Oh well, I suppose I count as delurked now as well.On a serious note, you indicated p-values in parts 1 and 2, but what is your null hypothesis? At least according to my understanding, you need one of those :) Oh yeah, and on the grad school note, my advice is get out while you still can.

  31. says

    Hello Ms. Blag Hag, I am one of those never-commenting-but-lurking male readers! I don’t mean to whine, BUT I do want to point out something I feel is important: the gender of your readers is man or woman, not male or female. The sex of your readers is male or female. On your survey, I think you should use terminology that fits. Gender (man, woman, or other) is social, sex (male, female, or other) is biological.Thank you!

  32. loreleion says

    Sex and gender are synonymous in most contexts, and there isn’t really a consensus on how and when they should be treated differently.

  33. MPH146 says

    The request to describe the photos by the blind person reminded me of a joke that went around some years ago when Congress quit funding the printing of Playboy magazine in brail: the blind are the only people who really DO read it for the articles.But I’m curious. How does one describe a photo to the blind? I can see it might be possible for those who were not born blind, and can remember being sighted. I had a deaf grandmother, who went deaf the year before I was born. Since she could remember sounds, you could describe a sound she might not have heard in terms of other sounds she had heard to give her some idea about it (it sounds like a saxophone coughing up a hair ball). But for those born deaf or blind, aren’t at least some of the common reference points needed for communicating missing? For instance, you can describe something as being “red”, and for those with sight reading it, an image of something red likely just popped into their “mind’s eye”. But for those born blind, while they may intellectually understand that there is a sense called “sight” that they lack, and that sight includes color, and red is a color, I don’t see how they can actually understand what “red” is. I can see where certain things might “jump the gap”. Someone born blind could, for instance, understand what a skateboard is. They can touch it, hear it, even attempt to ride it, and explore its workings, and eventually have some mental map that represents a skateboard. And if we had access to telepaths, we could determine how similar that map was to an actual skateboard, and how similar it was to a sighted person’s mental map of a skateboard. But aren’t there some concepts, such as color, that just can’t be described adequately to those born blind? Does the author skip those? Does the “reader” just discard them, since they’d be nonsense? Note that I am not advocating you not attempt it, I am genuinely curious how one handles things like color, as I don’t understand how there’s any chance at all of actually passing the information to the reader.

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