Plug, plug, plug

You may have noticed (how could you avoid it?) all the information about Seed’s new contest: if you’re commenting with a valid email address, you’re in the drawing. The prize is a 5-day trip to a great science city (there’s a poll to determine which one) — this is good, because even if some wacky creationist or HIV denialist or demented Republican wins, their reward will be some intense exposure to real science. I tell you, the brains behind this outfit are cunning and nefarious in their machinations. (If you are one of those deluded individuals who doesn’t want their illusions dashed, you can ask to be excused from the drawing. They’re cunning, but also nice.)


While I’m alerting you to the largesse of our host, let me mention another good deal: subscribe to Seed magazine, and they’ll give you this utterly faboo Sb beaker/coffee mug. I picked one up while I was in NY, and they are great — I’m half-seriously thinking I ought to get 6 subscriptions myself so I can have a whole set in my house, especially since my Trophy Wife™ has been casting covetous glances at my mug. Imagine your mornings, reading Seed, sipping coffee from that lovely mug; you’ll be the perfect image of the upscale nerd, just like me.


  1. ctenotrish, FCD says

    Gratuitous comment numero uno. I’d love a 5 day trip to darn near anywhere!

  2. Stephen says

    This comment contains no useful information/opinion. I just want a chance to get out of my town for 5 days.

    Please move along.

  3. idlemind says

    The prize is a 5-day trip to a great science city (there’s a poll to determine which one) — this is good, because even if some wacky creationist or HIV denialist or demented Republican wins, their reward will be some intense exposure to real science.

    Oh, please don’t throw me into that briar patch Farmer PZ!

  4. natasha says

    The great science cities have been narrowed down to Boston, San Francisco, and Cambridge, UK. No Paris? Drats! Voting is open and Cambridge is in the lead. Looks like some people don’t just want to get out of town… some may want to get out of the country.

  5. Russell says

    When I try to post with a real email address, at hotmail, these blogs say “there has been an error.” When I post with a fake email address, at mailinator, it works. Feh.

  6. Ken Mareld says

    Go Cambridge, or Boston, or wherever. No strike that wherever bit. I’d rather skip the visit to the GW Bush Institute for Advanced Physics and Brush Clearing in Crawford, Texas.


  7. jba says

    Hey, I already live (practicly) in Boston/Cambridge. If I win and thats the city chosen then whats up? They put me in a hotel a couple miles from my apartment and give me a day pass to the Museum of Science? Of course, I would love a pass to the MoS, its a fine fine place.

  8. says

    You strange people from exotic lands do not have to move to the US — you are eligible! Huzzah!

    Lest anyone goes nuts and starts posting comments like mad, the way this works is that all you have to do is make one comment (or use the entry submission form) between now and the time the 500,000th comment is made, and you’re in. Making one thousand comments will not enhance your likelihood of winning.

  9. says

    heck, I can DRIVE to the other two places for a week… But wondering, on the VERY off chance I won, how long it would take me to get a passport?

    anyway, I LOVE the mug. Do they sell them somewhere as well?

  10. AlanWCan says

    Hey, no fair. We drink coffee up here in Canada too you know. Seed’s only offering a one-issue freebie to those of us who don’t live in the Untied States of Jesusland; I think it would get all soggy if I poured coffee into it don’t you?

  11. phat says

    You know, I’ve been commenting a little bit more lately.

    This is going to keep me from getting more work done.



  12. says

    That mug looks awesome…now I wish I weren’t already subscribed, just so I could subscribe and get that mug. I wonder if renewing my subscription would count?

    Also, hi, I’m pathetic. Apparently all it takes is the announcement of a contest to bring me out of longtime lurkerdom.

  13. Luis says

    Maybe Chicago, to visit Argonne National Laboratory.

    Be sure to make your Sb coffee with 18.2 MΩ DI water for the maximum nerdiness.


  14. says

    I want a graduated coffee mug with the Science Blogs logo silkscreened on it, but I want the mug in the shape of an Erlenmeyer flask. ;-)

  15. BG says

    The mug looks great and I after reading all the great blogs here, I think I will subscribe just to do my part. Thank you to all the SciBlogers!

  16. Salt says

    Winning would be cool. I’d get a good detailed current explanation of just what God created and the up to date on how it all works. Not a bad deal at all. Cambridge would be excellent. Now if it included a lecture by Hawkings, right on.

    If it’s Boston, would I have to drive?

  17. syntyche says

    The great science cities have been narrowed down to Boston, San Francisco, and Cambridge, UK. No Paris?

    I’ll second that. Pretty sparse picks there. I guess I would have rather they interpreted that as “cities that had historic roles in the development of the scientific worldview”. Not that I’m complaining.

  18. Shygetz says

    Will they be providing a bowl of green M&M’s in the hotel suite? I have very high standards, you know…

  19. Tiskel says

    I just subscribed. I’ve been thinking of doing it for a little while, but that mug pushed me over the edge. Can’t wait…

  20. says

    Living in flyover country, any of the cities would be a good vacation. However, since I have friends in England, Cambridge would be a multi-purpose vacation. So I voted accordingly!

  21. AL says

    Lest anyone goes nuts and starts posting comments like mad, the way this works is that all you have to do is make one comment (or use the entry submission form) between now and the time the 500,000th comment is made, and you’re in. Making one thousand comments will not enhance your likelihood of winning.

    Really? Because if someone were to make 40,000 comments, it would quickly end the contest since 500,000 would be reached, and the pool of eligible entries would be very small. Or maybe I’m not getting how this works….

  22. says

    Five days in Cambridge, UK? I’m so up for that.

    Oh? Content? Umm:

    (Clears throat)


    The prominence in this era of efforts by believers in certain traditional religions to assert that they may validly reject the findings of many of the natural sciences is a complex phenomenon, into which many minor and major tributaries may feed. Social and economic disparities, the urban/hinterland divide, in particular, are probably key in the United States, where creationism’s association with rural and agrarian movements have long been noted. In parts of the Moslem world, the self-styled ‘puritanical’ extremist branches of the religion regularly trade in nationalist or quasi-nationalist pride.

    A common and critical feature, however, is the reality that religions, while they have always evolved to suit themselves to their peculiar cultural circumstances, to survive in the contemporary world, must either accomodate or directly reject a growing body of knowledge about the age and size of our universe and the manner in which we came into it–and in this era, this is a body of knowledge which is increasingly detailed, and for which evidence is arriving at what is in historical terms a breakneck pace. And while religions have heretofore been plastic enough to adapt their claims to avoid conflicts in this space they cannot win, the malleability required in the face of contemporary science’s body of cosmological knowledge is greater than it has ever been before.

    Religions have retreated to two general positions in the face of this challenge: a categorical rejection of evidence that conflicts with their own cosmological traditions, and a slightly more subtle relativism, sometimes borrowing in opportunistic, ad hoc fashion from postmodern ideas they use rhetorically to justify something which, in a sense, is even more deeply nihilistic: the complete rejection of the notion of a knowable and shared universal reality. In some sects, both strategies are intermixed, often uncomfortably.

    Most importantly: in many of the cultural contexts in which these religions are attempting to survive, the cognitive tools people require to negotiate their complex cultures, to educate themselves, to better themselves, are themselves being held to a higher and more rigourous standard than they have in the past. In short: we need our mental faculties to work, and work well, and work freely, to survive and prosper in the 21st century. This mixes poorly with many traditional religions, in which obvious contradictions in dogma were once airily explained away as precious, spiritual mysteries.

    Thus the culture war in inevitable. What we are seeing is several religions, all in paroxysms of rapid and desperate adaptation, pushed up against walls that close from every direction, seeking any direction of escape. For many, a sort of pan-relativism has been their last resort: it is all metaphor, tools for living, none of it with any bearing on larger cosmology. For others, it is simple denial: where the evidence we ourselves can easily see contradicts what we were once told to believe, we will reject the evidence.

    Thanks, all.

  23. Jeffery Keown says

    This is not a real comment. This is just a comment made with intent to go to (hopefully) a city very near to the Smithsonian. Please ignore.

  24. Rey Fox says

    What is the readership of ScienceBlogs like, geographically? I would figure it must be pretty American-dominated since it’s based here, and most of the bloggers are from here and you have that big population disparity to begin with. So now it would seem that the contest is going to be awfully skewed towards Cambridge as all the American voters now know they have a personal stake in it and would take the higher-value trip. Not too wise on Seed’s part, as they’re going to have to spend all that extra money now.

  25. kristen in monteal says

    I voted UK!
    And I work part time in a coffee shop and am a coffee fanatic… too bad the mugs are for US only :(

  26. Richard, FCD says


    You have a trophy wife?

    Steve Wright tells the story about his friend who had a trophy wife. But apparently it wasn’t first place.

  27. says

    Boston or Cambridge would be awesome!

    Sadly, SF isn’t *that* great as a science city. Either that or I just haven’t explored enough. I was kind of dissapointed with the California Academy of Sciences, I have to admit.

    On the other hand … DINOSAURS!!

    Yes, I’m still a four-year-old on the inside.

  28. Rien says

    I’m hoping for Cambridge. I don’t have to say anything extremely interesting in this thread, I can see.

  29. TheBowerbird says

    Please enter me as well! *Insert filler here* I just hope the city isn’t Austin, as I desperately need to get out of Texas for a bit : ) Here’s to hoping it’s NYC… MMmmm MoNH here I come!

  30. Don't Panic says

    Chicagoland area has Fermilab (40 min out from downtown by car) as well as Argonne. Fermilab is a more open campus as well, so if you’re visiting the area drop in. And downtown there’s the Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum. The Darwin exhibition is at the Field — haven’t seen it, but I did see the Evolution exhibit.

    Having visited quite a few science museums in my life (Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Portland, Ontario, London, and various smaller ones) I think I prefer those in SF/SJ — think of it as a two-fer. On the other hand I spent many summer days of my youth in the Boston Museum of Science. I’m sad to have missed the Electricity show last time I visited there. Nothing says “Mad Scientist” like huge sparks.

  31. says

    Wish I had one of those infinite improbability drives to increase my chances. Plus, then I could have dinner at Milliways.

  32. Phy says

    A better question might be, is it ethical? The contest itself certainly seems to be; there’s no outright consumer data harvesting like you get with most contests.

  33. silence says

    Do the markings on the mug mean that it is illegal chemistry equipment in the state of Texas?

  34. Ahcuah says

    Lest anyone goes nuts and starts posting comments like mad, the way this works is that all you have to do is make one comment (or use the entry submission form) between now and the time the 500,000th comment is made, and you’re in. Making one thousand comments will not enhance your likelihood of winning.

    What? You mean all my other comments in the past don’t count?

    Why, I’ll just have to, . . ., um, . . ., er, . . . Never mind.

  35. Peter says

    Cool mug. I’ll think about subscribing but I really just want the trip. I grew up in Mass. and now live near SF, so Cambridge is my choice. I’ll send you a postcard PZ.

  36. Carlie says

    No kidding. How many posts do scienceblogs get per day? How close are they? How long before someone hits the magic number?

  37. Soniya says

    Did you hear the latest about Mother Terrible oops Mother Teresa? Yes, the same one on whom Christopher Hitchens has wrote about in “The Missionary Position”. Turns out from her letters that in the latter half of her life, she did not believe in the existence of Jesus. Maybe she really was a realized soul after all!
    This week in Time magazine:,8599,1655415,00.html

  38. Paul Schofield says

    Looks like Cambridge is taking it.

    If I won, I would get to go back down south, may as well stay with my parents for five days. No like I don’t often pop into Cambridge for shopping or anything.

    Why couldn’t they sponsor people to the BA Festival of Science, held this year in York on my campus (so free passes all round!) and which will feature one US Supreme Court Justice, a half dozen religion/science debates/discussions, and most of the more interesting subjects you can think of from the world of science.

  39. mothra says

    3.141592653589793238462693383279- Gotta do something to fill the space while entering the contest. . .or go back to pouring kill jars for the introductory entomology class.

  40. Token says

    500,000 comments, eh? Looks like Cambridge UK is well at the front, so I’d better not win. Not much of a prize to be awarded a trip to the city where I already study…

  41. says

    I am thinking of commenting over at the blogs that don’t get many comments now, but are very interesting; like at evolvingthoughts. But, this will do for now, as we are prolly sitting at 466,000 with this one.

  42. says

    I drink my morning coffee out of a Humanist Association of the Greater Sacramento Area (HAGSA) mug. They gave it to me for doing a talk for them. Still, a ScienceBlogs mug might be a nice fallback for when we forget to wash dishes…

  43. MyaR says

    Why yes, this comment is entirely gratuitous. Although that mug is rather alluring… (also, the iPhone doesn’t seem to like the comment box much. This was my third try.)

  44. Treekick says

    Another lurker coming out of the woodwork for a chance to travel. Also looking on enviously at those who can get the nifty mug. Guess I’ll wait and see if Seed offers us Canucks something for a subscription.

  45. student_b says

    Free trip to Cambridge, well, count me in.

    Fortunately it doesn’t look like a destination in the USA will win, since they’d probably wouldn’t let me enter it anyway…

  46. Pareto says

    California has science…

    and sun and attractive people

    Because I want to study how much of a premium individuals place on attractiveness.

    yeah. that’s right.

  47. Maugrim says

    Cambridge is my favourite UK city, I got my degree from there. Which means if I won, I’d probably forfeit it in favour of someone to whom the location is actually remotely exotic.

  48. Caledonian says

    50 runners-up will receive the fabulous ScienceBlogs mug, which, while it doesn’t know a supercollider from a hole in the ground, does hold a mean cup of coffee.

    Emphasis mine.

    I ROTFLed out loud. Whoever wrote that line: Kudos, sir or madam, kudos.

  49. says

    I think a coffee mug that looks like a beaker is a really bad idea (unless perhaps it looks like Beaker from the Muppet Show). Personally I’m a firm believer in Gould’s nonoverlapping magisteria as it applies to coffee mugs and things that may contain toxic fluids. Of course if your beakers only ever contain 10% alcohol solution and zebra fish embryos then letting your magisteria overlap may not be fatal.

  50. Kate Smith says

    I sure hope you get a little kickback for all the Seed subscriptions you just sold. Thanks for the word!

  51. AlanWCan says

    Can I pick some more nits? The association of Rosalind Franklin with Cambridge seems pretty tenuous. She was based at Kings and then Birkbeck College both of which are in London, although didn’t she do her undergrad in Cambridge? It’s a wonderful little city…if you can avoid the CHAVs. People always get excited by a sighting of Steven Hawking or John Sulston there.

  52. Toby J says

    You’ve convinced me. Not only did I subscribe, I posted a comment. Your handlers should be proud.

  53. Mike says

    Bites that the mugs can’t make it to Canada. I’m getting revenge by posting this gripe in order to get in on the contest.

  54. Justin Wagner says

    You know what is sad? I would subscribe to Seed just to get the mug, but because I live in Canada, I’m not eligible. Boo urns. Also, I should get a life.

  55. Laura says

    Oooh, faboo mug! How’d Seed know that is just what it will take to get my dad to subscribe?

  56. E-lad says

    “Imagine your mornings, reading Seed, sipping coffee from that lovely mug; you’ll be the perfect image of the upscale nerd, just like me.”
    A vain attempt to provoke an action, and totally disengenuous, but, I still want the trip; or mug.
    I will be sitting there in my underware sipping Jack and Coke, reading Mad.

  57. says

    I could use a mug like that. Looks about the size of the one I use now, too.

    I could use the vacation, too, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to find myself on a do-not-fly list somewhere.

  58. Espahan says

    Okay, I’ll bite. I’m a regular reader of this blog, everyday in fact, and many of the other Seed blogs. I want my cup and my five days in the greatest science city in the world. Yes!

  59. Chad says

    hmmmmmm…… why do they want our email addresses so badly? to sell them to spammers? to spam us with constant pleas to subscribe?

  60. KCO says

    Where is the DI located again?
    Now THAT sounds like a sciency kinda city…

    *tuneless whistling*

  61. says

    The idea of traveling to an area where science is valued is extremely desirable. Here in Mississippi, I sometimes feel like I’m living in 1950’s America. If it wasn’t for the Internet, I think I’d have gone crazy long ago.

  62. says

    You got a trophy wife, I got a trophy wife. Sorry about Steve Wright’s friend — was his a creationist blog? That might explain it.

  63. Randy says

    Dennis Kucinich has a very nice trophy wife. Oh and so does Richard Dawkins. Romana was every nerd’s fantasy girl.

  64. Tom Buckner says

    I want to go to Metropolis. Maybe meet Professor Rotwang. If I promise not to make fun of his name, perhaps he would make me a fembot. That would r00l.

  65. DFX says

    Well I would certainly never make a useless comment just to be entered into a contest. Never I tell you, NEVER!

  66. ChimericMouse says

    I think it’s unreasonable that people have to comment to be entered into the contest, so I’m writing this comment to complain.

  67. Bee says

    I would love to visit Boston again… or Cambridge… or even San Francisco.

    About the mug – you send us East Coast Canucks all that industrial pollution, but won’t mail us a lousy free mug? Pikers.

  68. Suze says

    I’m Southern. Deep Southern. Get me out of here. Godless liberal Southerners ought to get to enter twice. Or three times.

  69. knobody says

    great! a trip to england! of course, pity the fool who doesn’t already have a passport. it could take about six months to get one if you apply now. longer if the national id stupidity actually happens next year.

  70. Andrew Cooper says

    I trust the organisers have spotted the flaw in the ‘greatest science city’ competition. Clearly (to state the bleedin’ obvious, as we say here in Limeyland) people are voting based on which of the three choices they’d most like to visit. Clearly, as a Limey, I know that Cambridge UK is way ahead of the US choices and also beats any other location worldwide (Paris? Pah!) except, possibly, London.

    However, I’d much rather visit west coast USA than a place I’ve been to many times before, which is only 1.5 hours drive away and which will almost certainly be damp and soggy when I get there (not to mention cold – the winds blow straigt in from the Urals, you know.)

    So there’s no doubt in my mind that San Francisco is the all -time greatest science city in the world. Yes sireee. What should I pack?

  71. Mags says


    The mug isn’t available to us UK lepers. It looks so, so cool! Gradations on mugs are teh roxxorz! One free issue sucks.

    Anyone know of any equivalent ones in the UK? I’m almost willing to pay for one.

  72. steve_h says

    Making one thousand comments will not enhance your likelihood of winning.

    Not even by its side effect of reducing the number of other people who can register before the 500,000 is reached?

  73. aatish says

    I can’t subscribe to seed, on principle. Though I absolutely love the magazine I haven’t subscribed because:

    1. If you pay by credit card, you must have your subscription auto-renew once it expires. there is no way i can see to disable this on the subscription website. a pretty sleazy ploy on the part of marketing (or inept website coders) if you ask me!
    2. I want to pay by credit card (checks are SO 20th century!)


  74. Rachel I. says

    Nice mug, but I really want one with a secchi disk on the bottom. Has anyone found a good one? A combined secchi disk + beaker-measurements mug would be awesome.

  75. mschoppe says

    I’ve never read Seed magazine before. I always thought it was for farmers, or maybe aficionados of sperm banks.