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Science Calling: Anna Call on the $30,000 Climate Denial Challenge

Anna CallAnna Call Hello, I’m your science host, Anna Call. I review science things for Foreword Reviews and generally appreciate a good bibliography. (But really, who doesn’t?) Today being the first day of this blog’s life, let’s run down why we’re here:

  1. To give independently published science a fair shake, a seat at the table, a chance to do right by Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, and the recognition it deserves. Let’s face it: indie publishing is where it’s going to be at. It’s already happening.

  2. To keep up with the happenings in the world of independently published science. Maybe you read indie science, maybe you write it, maybe you partner with someone who does, but regardless of your stake, you need to know the latest.

  3. To have fun with it. Because this is science, and science is always fun. Right?

Now that the nitty-gritty stuff is out of the way, let’s get right into the news.

$30,000 Climate-Denial Challenge

Physicist and indie author Christopher Keating is still looking for someone to scientifically disprove global warming. If the $30,000 prize (not a mere $10,000—check his blog) isn’t enough to get you going, then consider this: the second submission has been denied as of June 23. It’s on! Keating, a Texan who previously taught physics at the University of South Dakota, has been profiled all over the place since announcing the contest. (Check him out at the Daily Mail and Think Progress.) He’s been into climate change literally longer than I’ve been alive. Check out his self-published book Undeniable: Dialogues on Global Warming.

Astonishingly, this isn’t the first time someone’s pulled a stunt like this: In 2007, Junkscience.com founder Steve Milloy, who lives at the other end of the climate change philosophy street, offered first $150,000, then eventually $500,000 for proof that humans were causing climate change. We’ve got to get these guys together. Milloy’s book, Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them, can be found here.

Get Ready for Self-Published Textbooks

A few of our readers might have already run into this fantastic paper from OpenScholar.org, but it’s worth a read by every science-minded person who’s thinking about publishing. It covers an alternative work flow for scientists who self-publish, criticizes journals for being narrow platforms stifled by pay walls, and proposes that journals are outdated and unnecessary in the current model.

As the article points out, physicists (bless their neutrinos) have been quietly self-publishing on arXiv since 1991, and with the publishing industry milking serious scientists to the tune of $9.4 billion in 2011, it’s hard not to wonder why researchers don’t look for alternative options. Granted, nobody’s getting rich publishing on arXiv, but with over two million monthly page views, at least a few of the scientists who feature their work there must be getting a decent professional boost.

But it’s tough to make money publishing in a journal under the best of circumstances. Textbooks are different; cash advances, publisher marketing support, the value of the brand name, and a hundred other factors seem to make a switch to open textbook publishing a more daunting option.

Still, academics are beginning to consider the possibilities. Joe Moxley of the American Association of University Professors has commented on textbook self-publishing options. He points out that not only may new models be viable, but making textbooks digitally available at a low price may be a way into the hearts and minds of cash-strapped students who increasingly seem to prefer multimedia to print. (He also talks about publishing with Pearson versus going it solo with his own venture, Writing Commons.)

As the price of e-books continues to rise, academics self-publishing their work could be the safety valve that keeps education in reach for the average learner. There may be other benefits—working outside of the purview of a huge corporation, for example—but the fact is that so little textbook self-publishing has been done up until now that it’s impossible to know. This is truly new territory, and it’s more than ready for pioneers.

We’ll have to wait and see whether academics carry the open journal movement over into textbook publishing. Self-publishing physicists may have opened a door in 1991, but by the time the self-publishing movement blooms in full, that aperture may well become a highway.


This gorgeous self-published book of science poetry is worth a look and available on Etsy. First of all, artsy Etsy + SCIENCE. Second, this book is a NaPoWriMo product, which really makes you wonder about how the National Novel Writing Month model could be applied to science writing. NaSciWriMo, anyone?

Will Write for Food?

Feel like food? Plant-based pharmacist Dustin Rudolph needs someone to review his upcoming book, The Empty Medicine Cabinet: The Pharmacist’s Guide to the Hidden Danger of Drugs and the Healing Powers of Food. He’s got ARCs! Drop him a line at the link.

Ask a Science Teacher

Anyone going to be in Madison, Wisconsin on August 10? Larry Scheckel, author of The Experiment’s acclaimed 2013 reference book Ask a Science Teacher, will be speaking at the Barnes and Noble at West Towne Mall.

Anna Call

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