I haven't done a scientist appreciation in a while, but I have been thinking about this one for about two weeks now. It is a slightly unorthodox scientist appreciation, in that it is primarily an appreciation of PZ Myers' promotional efforts for science rather than his own work specifically (not that he doesn't do good scientific work, it's just not exactly in my field), kind of like my appreciation of Isaac Asimov's contribution to science. Also similar to Isaac Asimov, in many ways it is not PZ Myers' status as a scientist which makes him most famous (although, instead of being famous for writing science fiction, he is famous for his lack of religious views and his willingness to write about such a lack on the internet).
This post, however, isn't about PZ Myers' religion (or lack thereof). It is about his commitment to further an appreciation for science and scientific issues. While much of his blog is centered about intermittently laughing and gnashing one's teeth at the outrageous idiocy of the anti-scientific, I think it is an important contribution to make. Exposing some of the ludicrous claims and fabrications of pseudoscientists might help people think twice about other statements when no supporting evidence is offered. PZ Myers provides an indefatigable stream of commentary, humour, and substantive science and science policy posts. While I may not always agree with his stance on things, when I do not it is very often due to a preconceived notion and ignorant crudility on my part. More imporantly, though, the near constant stream of information provides a place on the internet where those who care about science and scientific issues can gather (if somewhat passively). Since mainstream news doesn't seem to care much about science (after all, look at how much this year's American election revolved around the discussion of science... other than the mocking of fruit fly research), PZ Myers has personally developed an extensive outlet of news and relevant links. Blogs run by skeptics and science enthusiasts may be a dime a dozen on the internet (case in point, look at mine!), but no one does it quite like PZ Myers. For that, he has earned this edition of Scientist Appreciation.