- Jan 2015
Unlike most popularizers (at least of mine), this post didn’t describe a completed piece of research. It just served just an opportunity to riff about an idea I found interesting. But blogging made me realize this idea could be more interesting than I had realized. A “motivated view” of empathy could, for instance, help in understanding illnesses like autism and psychopathy, or thinking up techniques to “grow” empathy. I figured it’d be worth sinking some more effort into it, and wrote a long form academic article on the subject. After much work and a long (but productive) peer review process, that article was published just last week! More importantly, the ideas in that piece—taken over by my students—now drive much new work in my lab that might not have happened otherwise.
A very interesting point, especially considering the fact that in my own research of science bloggers (#MySciBlog research at LSU), this seems to be a common approach to blogging by scientists/scholars. A scientist/scholarly blogger often starts a blog post with an idea, nugget or concept that they are curious about or interested in learning more about. Many 'intellectuals' also say that blogging helps them collect and clarify their thoughts on a topic or question. The natural result for those engaged in scholarship is for some blogged topics/questions to blossom into larger and more complex ideas and even research questions. I know for myself, several of my blog posts - and especially my some of my freelance science journalism work - has prompted me to pursue complimentary research in my role as a science communication PhD student.
As an added bonus of being public on the web, the 'blogged' content can elicit feedback from readers and scholars that further pushes the blogger's own ideas and scholarship in new directions.