Saturday, February 28, 2009

How science bloggers are like used car dealers

Seed has a nice article up about the effect of science blogging on science diffusion.

One quote from Ed Deiner stuck out to me:
how can we guarantee quality in what is sent around? The internet is full of wonderful information — but it is also full of disinformation and errors. How can readers know whether what they are reading is solid information?
This problem can be solved in the blogosphere the same way it can be solved in the used car market. George Akerlof's famous paper "The Market for Lemons" formally introduced the problem of asymmetric information. Used car dealers and bloggers alike guarantee the quality of their products with their reputation.

If a used car dealer sells bad cars, he loses his good reputation and because of that he loses money (which is presumably his reason for selling cars). If a science blogger posts unscientific drivel masquerading as good science, eventually some people will find out and he loses his good reputation, and because of that he loses his blogger status (which is presumably his reason for blogging).

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