1. Christian Burnham says

    It’s unfair to spoil the chances of other students who are also competing for this scholarship by urging Pharyngula readers to mindlessly click on a link.

    For the record- I had a look at Shelley’s blog- and she seems very deserving, but I urge everyone to form their own opinions.

    (Am I taking this too seriously?)

  2. says

    Christian – I don’t think you are taking this too seriously.

    I think it’s legitimate for PZ Myers (and Lindsay Beyerstein, for that matter, where I saw this first) to point us to a scholarship challenge. I don’t think it would be appropriate for anybody to vote blindly, though. This is a scholarship, not a contest to see who is the most well-connected in the blogosphere.

    There are 20 candidates and I think I have the time to read 20 blogs.

    Wait – Shelley’s going up against Over the Monster? Brave. You want me to vote against a Red Sox blog for a mere science blog?

    This may take some time…

  3. Caledonian says

    Isn’t anyone going to offer reasons for us to vote for Shelley besides a) she needs money and b) she’s a ScienceBlogger?

    The rich get richer…

  4. Caledonian says

    Okay, let me rephrase that:

    Isn’t anyone going to offer any good reasons to vote for Shelley?

  5. Christian Burnham says

    Here’s Shelley’s post from the previous blog entry

    Well, as to why i deserve to win, my thesis research aims to provide insight into genetic and age-related hearing loss, specifically to regenerate the cells we lose as deafness occurs (hair cells). The scholarship would go a long way towards paying off my school loans i have accumulated, as i was responsible for paying my own way through undergrad (my parents could not afford to). Although I wouldn’t have it any other way. I left high school in South Carolina a Southern Baptist and left undergrad an atheist willing to question the status quo and conduct scientific inquiry. Thanks, whoever you vote for. There are many deserving blogs.

  6. Caledonian says

    Clearly I have to reduce this question to its simplest components.

    What reasons exist for voting for Shelley as opposed for voting for someone else? What makes her better or more deserving than the other candidates?

  7. Penon says

    Caledonian, could you stop badgering people to do your work for you? Go read some of the entries in the blogs of the various students involved, then form your own opinion as to who(m?) is most deserving.


  8. Caledonian says

    Caledonian, could you stop badgering people to do your work for you?

    I don’t need to vote for Shelley – I don’t need to vote at all. Given that I am being requested to do so, the obligation to provide justification rests with those making the request.

    You have a peculiar sense of obligations. Let me guess – you label yourself as a liberal.

  9. Penon says

    That’s right Caledonian, you don’t need to vote. At all. Which makes your constant harping for justifications all the more odd.

    And your parodic sense of entitlement doesn’t leave me guessing as to how you must label yourself.

  10. The Masked Pedant says

    Penon: “who.”

    Has anybody else noticed that Cal’s recent comments have taken on a decidedly more upbeat, almost jocular tone? I bet (s)he’s in love. Eh, Cal?

  11. says

    I tried voting for her form work yesterday but the web blocker they use at work wouldn’t let me get to the site. SecureComputing’s SmartFilter considers the site a “Spam E-Mail URL”. Maybe you have been pushing this a bit too hard.

    Of course this same filter prevents me from getting to DailyKos as well. I always wondered if AFMC was trying to tell me something…

  12. Caledonian says


    That’s right Caledonian, you don’t need to vote. At all. Which makes your constant harping for justifications all the more odd.

    (ding dong)

    “Hello. I’m collecting money. How much can I put you down for?”
    “What’re you collecting for, and why should I give it my charity?”
    “Don’t ask me to do your for you, sir.”


  13. Caledonian says

    Now, as I left out the word ‘work’ in my previous post, we’re obviously running a bit low on brains. Go acquire some! And not from that Abby Normal guy, I don’t trust his merchandise.

  14. Ichthyic says

    The rich get richer…


    yeah, sure.

    I recall being so rich when I was a grad student, i could actually afford to go out to eat once a week, instead of just eating rice and beans.

    ah, those were the days. Oh wait, I think I’m still paying for those days.

    btw, several other sci bloggers have posted their own kudos of Shelley (links are in the comments for the comepetion).

    I also notice that while yesterday Shelley was over 2k down from Kim Klein – the student mom who is struggling with breast cancer – she has gained ground since, and appears to have a fair chance.

  15. says

    The *rich* comment also made me laugh. I grew up in a small town in SC, raised hardcore Souther Baptist. My parents couldn’t afford to pay for my education, and while I got into one of the expensive, big name schools I opted to try to reduce my debt load AND get a better education at a small liberal arts college. It is here that I developed a love for science and learned about evolution. These things led me to become an atheist, and nearly be disowned by my parents. Nevertheless, it wasn’t cheap, and I worked during school and took out loans. I did extremely well there and am now at the University of Michigan in the Neuroscience PhD program. Those undergrad debts aren’t going anywhere and while my PhD tuition is paid for by a grant I have, I still take out loans to make ends meet. I’m not claiming poverty by any means, but rich is certainly very far from the truth.

    Besides financial concerns you might think of voting for me due to my research. My life is already dedicated to medical research, specifically on genetic deafness and age-related hearing loss. This is one of the most prevalent disabilities in America, and our lab has produced some of the most promising research to date towards regenerating the ear’s sensory cells. It is my goal to continue this research, as I’ve found my niche and see the oppertunity to genuinely help people.

    Many of the contestents have outstanding blogs and derserve your time. Although, of course, I hope in the end you choose mine.

  16. Caledonian says


    The rich get richer…


    yeah, sure.

    I recall being so rich when I was a grad student, i could actually afford to go out to eat once a week, instead of just eating rice and beans.

    No one is poor who has friends. And not all riches can be measured in money.

    Because Shelley managed to be accepted to ScienceBlogs, she has a lot more ‘friends’ than most of the other blogs in the running, simply because she has more visibility. Gaining exposure makes it easier for her to get even *more* exposure – as the number of ScienceBlogs shilling for her demonstrate.

  17. Caledonian says

    Okay, I hate the blockquote function here. It does weird things with line breaks.

    I will note that I had to go to Neurophilosophy before I found a blog offering a real reason why Shelley should be supported – and it’s a doozy.

    Was that so hard?

  18. says

    The head of the scholarship told us to ask friends, relatives, whoever to help us. You are right that riches are also friends, and I am so, so lucky for that. Obviously the other contestents have many friends as well, and are asking them for help too (ie, I’m not in first). However that should be viewed positively rather than negatively. What are friends for?

    I was accepted to ScienceBlogs due to the content of my blog not because of nepotism. I was blogging in obscurity for almost a year before SB swooped in, and I was quite surprised. The fact that I have friends in this community ‘shilling’ for me, as you say, makes me proud that think enough of me to do so, and to help me further the career of a new scientist.

    Caledonian, if you wish to vote at all, vote for whoever you think deserves it. There’s many students that could use it.

  19. Penon says

    (ding dong)

    “Hey Caledonian. Good to see you at my door again. It’s nice how you come by so often and we spend gobs of time chatting and getting to know each other. True, we tend to argue a lot, but then that’s in the nature of having divergent opinions.”
    “Yeah, so what the hell do you want?”
    “First, you’re the one who came to see me. But I want to ask if you’ll vote for someone I know and like, which will get her something she could really use.”
    “Not until you explain to me how she connects to all things that are good in life. [some non sequitur about rich folk]”

    Really Caledonian, if you can show the scholarship money is coming out of your pocket, I won’t complain about you slamming the door in PZ’s face (and nor should PZ). In any case, you were the one who brought up the need to make things simple, so let’s try it on you: PZ’s request had nothing to do with who is most deserving of your vote. It’s about how PZ knows Shelley (I assume best from among the 20 up for the scholarship), apparently respects her since he’s been known to link positively to her blog, and wants her to win so asked his readers to help in that goal.

    Wow, PZ made a fairly emotion-based, human appeal to his readers. How awfully un-scientist of him…

  20. Penon says

    To help the literal-minded around here (which is legion), the last sentence in my last comment above is dripping with sarcasm.

  21. Arnosium Upinarum says

    If anybody bothers to look they will note that the FRONT-runner is undergoing cancer treatment.

    Far be it for me to pose an opinion on anything like such a dreadful circumstance, and I do very much have a lot of sympathy for her, but I’m afraid that I find that the obvious sympathy influence involved in this all too telling, and, quite frankly, it leaves a pretty lousy taste in my mouth.

    I’m truly mortified and very sorry, but if something like this vote isn’t about establishing some kind of actual intellectual merit rather than establishing who is worthy of the most sympathy, there’s something really WRONG about this whole exercise.

    There, I said it. May the hailstorm begin.

    Nevertheless, I voted for Ms. Batts (AFTER looking them ALL over, of course) and found her easily above all the rest in terms of her perspicuity.

    A sampling of her recent blog entries basically says it all (go ahead and compare):

    -“Rings of Phenomenal Nertitude”
    -“Fibonacci Numbers, the Cochlea, and Poetry”
    -“Original Art of A Lion’s Skull, And What’s In It”
    -“Quid pro quo, Clarice”
    -“The Curious Case of Phineas Gage”
    -“Non-materialist Neuroscience Nonsense (aka Return of the Animal Spirits)”
    -“The Beautiful and Tragic Life of A Worker Bee”

    For my money, Shelley Batts has the brains and deserves the scholarship.

  22. Arnosium Upinarum says

    Caledonian: “Isn’t anyone going to offer any good reasons to vote for Shelley?” [Or any tiresome variation of same].

    It has been provided, okay?

    “I don’t need to vote for Shelley – I don’t need to vote at all.”

    Well, hey, good for you. Then shut the hell up. Lurk elswhere…but don’t forget your grumpy medicine.

  23. Caledonian says

    To help the literal-minded around here (which is legion), the last sentence in my last comment above is dripping with sarcasm.

    [Homer]: “Ooh, look at me Marge, I’m making people Happy! I’m the magical man, from Happy Land, who lives in a gumdrop house on Lolly Pop Lane! By the way, I was being sarcastic.”

    (leaves room)

    [Marge]: “Well, duh.”

  24. Kerovon says

    One thing that is probably going to help her is that the official Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster made a post in her support.

  25. Waterdog says

    I’ll provide my own opinion for why I voted for Shelley this morning. I didn’t check all 20 blogs. I checked the top 3 contenders, breast cancer lady, Shelley, and the MIT chick. No one else had any chance at this point. I wasn’t initially going to vote for Shelley, the breast cancer thing seemed kind of like an obvious gimme. But I put a little more thought into it.

    The important points are, who needs the money, and who will put it to good use? Breast cancer lady is in law school. She’ll get through school one way or another, if she has what it takes, and she’ll probably make oodles of money. She can pay off her loans. Furthermore, how is this helping the world, getting one more lawyer through school? We don’t need lawyers. There are always plenty of people willing to go through school and become a lawyer. There’s plenty of financial motivation. Why would someone work harder for less money to be in science? For something more than money.

    Every new scientist potentially makes a difference. Every new scientist will potentially perform original research. What’s more, I know first-hand through friends what a rough situation it is financially, not just until you graduate, but for years and years afterwards. Shelley will never be raking in the dough at her job, and if she does, it will be 20 years from now. If. She needs the cash. I checked out MIT chick, and the first thing I saw was “Major, what major?” I don’t think so. Her parents are probably rich, or I don’t think she’d be at MIT, or anywhere. Shelley paid her own undergrad? That’s a rarity. She’s got my vote.

    But this is just my opinion. I don’t know any of them (or read any of their blogs).

  26. Penon says

    Caledonian: If with that little Simpsons-imparted slap at me you’re trying to demonstrate a talent at insulting people, then I recommend you don’t quit your day job. That is, if you actually have one.

    Shelley: Best of luck.

  27. Spaulding says

    Caledonian, you’re right that this post doesn’t offer any acceptable reason to vote for Shelly. I couldn’t care less that Shelly’s friendly with PZ or that she’s a freethinker or whatever. But I’ve certainly enjoyed many of her blog articles, which is enough to justify the thirty seconds it took to vote for her. If you don’t have a similarly compelling reason, don’t vote.