PZ Myers is an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota at Morris and the man behind the popular science blog Pharyngula.
Q: What’s the first thing you read in the morning?
A: My site, Pharyngula, of course. I have to clean up spam, catch up with the conversation, and feed the fires with my own contributions.
Q: What newspapers and magazines do you subscribe to or read regularly? What do you read in print versus online or mobile?
A: I read Nature, Science, BioEssays, Development, Developmental Biology, PNAS [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences] regularly, and a few other journals irregularly. I read almost nothing printed on paper—I prefer to download PDF’s and read them on my laptop or iPad.
Newspapers I might read occasionally for the novelty, usually if there’s one left on the table at the coffee shop. I do browse The New York Times online
Q: What books have you recently read?
A: I read a book every day or two, except lately when I’ve been swamped with work. Last book read was Lone Frank’s Mindfield: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World, before that was Oren Harman’s The Price of Altruism, Erik Larson’s Thunderstruck, a fun little book called Quirks of Human Anatomy by Lewis Held, it goes on and on. I tend to slurp up any printed matter that stumbles before my eyes.
Q: Has your reading of professional journals changed in the past 10 years? If so, how?
A: Not in subject matter, which remains almost entirely in developmental and evolutionary biology. I have picked up browsing the PLoS journals. The big change is in the switch to electronic media—10 years ago, it was a matter of regular trips to the library to photocopy papers. Now I just stuff PDF’s onto a hard drive.
Q: Do you read blogs? If so, what blogs do you like best?
A: My faves right now are Why Evolution Is True, Sandwalk, Butterflies and Wheels, ERV, a few others—anything where the personality of the author shines through, and I do favor hard-edged godless science writers who don’t mince words.
Q: Do you use Twitter? If so, do you follow anyone?
A: Yes, but it’s a slightly alien medium for me. I haven’t quite got the rhythm of the thing. The nice thing about it is that it feels very breezy and ephemeral…I follow whims, and don’t worry too much about it. It feels like a medium that excels when all participants are slightly tipsy and having a good time with a chat.
Q: What are the guilty pleasures in your media diet?
A: There hasn’t been much free time lately, but I’m a science-fiction fan. Iain M. Banks, China Miéville, Charles Stross, Tim Powers are a few of my favorite authors. When I’m feeling like something really light, I’ll indulge in some fantasy authors. Recently, Gail Carrigan has kept me amused.
I mostly prefer reading printed books, but that’s beginning to change—I’ve been enamored of the Kindle for a while, which has been great for traveling, but I recently got an iPad which is even more readable and much more versatile. The day will be coming soon when I won’t bother with paper at all. The one reservation I have there is that the digital rights management on these e-books is worrisome—I keep books forever, and the thought that I could ‘buy’ an ebook and have my ownership rescinded a mere few years down the road is a major concern.—Evan R. Goldstein
Sketch by Ted Benson