Becoming a Science Hedgehog

Posted on 26th May 2010 by Ryan Somma in Science Etcetera

In his book The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister’s Pox, Stephen J. Gould talks about scientists falling into two categories, foxes and hedgehogs. I wrote the following summarizing Gould’s metaphor:

There are two kinds of inquisitive minds, Hedgehogs and Foxes. In nature, Foxes rely on a wide range of crafty strategies to avoid prey. Hedgehogs rely on one tried and true defense, rolling up into a ball and baring their quills. Intellectually, Foxes dart from topic to topic, surveying a wide range of ideas across a broad spectrum of research fields. Bill Nye, Science Guy and other science popularizers are good examples of the fox scientist. Hedgehogs hunker down into one topic and research thoroughly. Your typical graduate student working on their thesis is a hedgehog.

For its first four years, I used this blog as a sounding board for articulating what I thought about politics, philosophy, and science. For the last three years, ideonexus has been a fox science blog, darting from subject to subject in the realm of empirical observations and journaling what I learned in all of them. For awhile now, my intellectual interests have been gravitating to computer science, as have my non-link blog posts. When I come home, I want to write programming code and read essays and articles about information technology. So the daily links have become a distraction, a minor one, but one that takes a little time from my being a hedgehog computer scientist.

In finding the stories that most interest me, I had to give up on RSS readers because there was too much noise in the way they homogenize data, so I visited lots of my favorite news sites daily. Here are the links to my favorite and useful science web sites. I’ll keep visiting them for relaxation, and I hope you’ll support them too:

The Best Science News Sites

ABC (Australia) Science
Air & Space Magazine
Ars Technica
BBC SciTech News
Cosmos News
Discover
Discovery News
Edge
Economist Science
LiveScience
National Geographic News
National Public Radio (US)
Natural History Magazine
New York Times Science
New Yorker Science
Popular Mechanics
Popular Science
R&D Magazine
Scientific American
Seed Magazine
Science News
Smithsonian
USA Today Science
US News & World Report Science
Wired News

The Best Science Blogs

Chet Raymo
Rationally Speaking
Schrodinger’s Kitten
The Technium

Good Science News (with a Caveat)

The caveat is that some of these sites publish press releases uncritically, have a strong philosophical or political bias, or demand a subscription to read their articles (look for the NYTimes to make this list next year).

EurekAlert!
Futurity
h+
Mother Jones Environment
New Scientist
PhysOrg
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Science Daily
Slashdot Science
Space.com

3 Comments

  1. So, does this mean you’re quitting Ideonexus?

    Comment by Glenn — May 29, 2010 @ 1:56 pm

  2. Not quitting ideo, but I am going to give up the daily links. I’ve found that I won’t be able to give up the general science posts, but I do hope to focus more on Computer Science memes.

    Comment by ideonexus — June 1, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

  3. Ryan, sorry to hear you’re pulling back on ‘general’ science posts, but glad you’ve found something sufficiently interesting to turn you int a hedgehog. Thanks for the list of links – cool!

    Comment by Smick — June 3, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

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