Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Who Reads Blogs?

By Rich Kozlovich

For the most part – I don’t have a clue, but I do believe many of my regular readers are what’s called “Quality Readers”.  One of my daily readers is a retired geologist from Canada who tells me he starts his daily news search with Paradigms and Demographics.  Another is a retired scientist in Texas who not only reads my blog weekly, he cuts, pastes and sends my articles out to his net.  Another regular reader is a prominent retired attorney in Oregon and there are two science writers – one in the Netherlands and one in Great Britain. All of them would qualify as “quality readers”, don't you think?  Otherwise, I only know how many hits I get, but stats aren’t the only defining criteria for the worth of a blog. 

Many years ago when I started blogging I intended for it to be a “green only” blog focusing on the pest control industry, and I was getting about 2000 hits a month, which is nothing I admit, but I was pleased.  However, as the years went by I realized it was impossible to fully discuss the green movement, what they do and why they do it, without linking them with the left and leftist thinking.   In 2012 I expanded the content deciding Paradigms and Demographics should be a “pro-humanity” blog, which by definition made it an anti-green and anti-left blog.  I starting getting around 5000 hits a month, and I was very pleased, although I admit that’s not much of a big deal either, but the hits were coming from all over the world. 

In the last three years the numbers started going up until at one point I was getting 30,000 hits a month.  The all time top ten countries being United States, France, Germany, China, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Canada and Poland.  On any given week I may see different countries taking a spot in the top ten.  I find that usually occurs when there are severe internal problems in those countries.  My monthly count has dropped to about 10,000 a month currently, but in January the total number of hits went over 500,000.  Compared to many blogs that’s no big deal either, but I’m more than happy about that.  Especially since most of those hits occurred in the last three years!  I have to believe someone must be reading my blog!

One year Bulgaria took the lead over the U.S. for a month.  At that same time all the fracking articles I had linked were being massively hit.  Two weeks later there was a movement in Bulgaria to overturn the government’s policy on fracking.  The previous winter many Eastern Europeans froze to death due to a lack of energy because of efforts to curtail CO2 emissions to please Global Warming maniacs.   Did my blog have anything to do with that?  I have no idea, but I can only hope. 

I’ve been told no one reads blogs, or at the best, it’s only read by “fringe” people.  I’m not sure I'm able to define “fringe” people, so I have no way of knowing who these “fringe” people are, so I thought it worthwhile to find out exactly who it is that reads blogs.  What kind of people they are, and what do they do.  Or perhaps it’s only bloggers who read other bloggers work.  Since there are 157 million blogs out there, that seems to me to represent a substantial number of people.  Can they all be “fringe” people?

Well, I decided to do some checking up on this.  First of all, let’s consider the issue of quality.  One blogger  asked,  “would you rather have 1,000 Facebook friends or 10 real-life friends? Similarly, the people who visit our site can’t be measured solely on stats.”

Are blog readers the hip, the hopeless and the penniless, or are they older, wealthier and ….here it comes….. are they professionals?  If they belong to the later group that makes them a “distinct, desirable and significant demographic”.  Don't you think?

The writer went on to say; Blogads surveyed 17,159 blog site visitors during a two-day period in May, inquiring about their age, income, media consumption, online spending habits and political affiliations. The survey learned that 61 percent of blog readers were more than 30 years old and nearly 40 percent of those surveyed have a household income of $90,000 or more. “

“Though one would think the younger generation would be perusing blogs day and night, 30 percent are between 31 and 40, while more than 37 percent are 41 to 60. Only 17 percent of blog readers fall between 25 and 30 years, while a mere 10.3 percent are 19 to 24-years old. The study found that nearly 80 percent of readers are male.”

So what is it that attracts these people?  Especially since we now know – absolutely know –these aren’t “fringe” people. It turns out nearly “80 percent read blogs because they offer news they can't find elsewhere. About 78 percent say blogs give them a better perspective, and about 66 percent say blogs provide them with news faster than other sites or media. The study found that blog readers are media hungry….”

What happens when it’s a big political year?  There's far more traffic and that’s where people are even convinced to donate money. There’s a reason there are so many political ads appearing on blogs.   They can only work if they’re visited – a lot – and by “quality readers”. 

“Out of 66.7 percent of respondents who clicked on a blog ad, nearly 40 percent contributed money to a campaign or cause. About 63 percent contributed money online to campaign in the last six months. While 50 percent contributed more than $50, 27 percent gave between $100 and $499”…..and 50 percent have spent more than $50 online for books, 47 percent have spent more than $500 for plane tickets, and 25 percent bought between $100 to $499 worth of electronics on the Internet.”

So why is that important to our industry? The pesticide application industries are in an unending battle to defend ourselves against misinformation about pesticides because the public has been inundated with speculative claims and outright lies that pesticides cause every ailment they can think of.  Rachel Carson can be credited with starting this trend with her book Silent Spring, a virtual lava flow of speculation, misinformation and outright lies.

She starts out in Chapter One, A Fable for Tomorrow, saying:

“There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings.  The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards were, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the green fields.  In autumn, oak and maple and birch set u a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines.  Then foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed the fields, half hidden in the mists of the fall mornings."

"Along the roads, laurel, viburnum and alder, great ferns and wildflowers delighted the traveler’s eye through much of the year.  Even in winter the roadsides were places of beauty, where countless birds came to feed o berries and on the seed heads of the dried weeds rising above the snow.  The countryside was, in fact, famous for the abundance and variety of its bird life, and when the flood of migrants was pouring through in spring and fall people traveled from great distances to observe them.  Others came to fish the streams, which flowed clear and could out of the hills and contained shady pools where trout lay. So it had been from the days many years ago when the first settlers raised their houses, sand their wells, and built their barns."

"Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change.  Some evil spell had settled on the community: mysterious maladies swept the flocks of chickens the cattle and sheep sickened and died.  Everywhere was a shadow of death.  The farmers spoke of much illness among their families.  In the town the doctors had become more and more puzzled by new kinds of sickness appearing their patients.  There had been several sudden and unexplained deaths, not only among adults but ever among children, who would be stricken and suddenly while at play and die within a few hours."

"There was a strange stillness.  The birds, for example – where had the gone?  Many people spoke of them, puzzled and disturbed.  The feeding stations in the backyards were deserted.  The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly.  It was a spring without voices.  On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the woods and marsh."

"On the farms the hens brooded, but no chicks hatched.  The farmers complained that they were unable to raise any pigs- the litters were small and the young survived only a few days.  The apple trees were coming into bloom but no bees droned among the blossoms, so there was no pollination and there would be no fruit."

"The roadsides, once so attractive, were now lined with browned and withered vegetation as though swept by fire.  These, too, were silent, deserted by all living things.  Even the streams were now lifeless.  Anglers no longer visited them, for all the fish had died."

'In the gutters under the eaves and between the shingles of the roofs, a white granular power still showed a few patches; some weeks before it had fallen like snow upon the roofs and the lawns, the fields and streams."

"No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world.  The people had done it themselves."   

Where was this town?  She says it doesn’t exist!  And there's no evidence any such town ever existed, but she claims these are disasters that had actually happened "somewhere", which she fails to name.  But her writing was so emotionally powerful the public didn’t ask that question. In the process she managed to convince everyone DDT and other chemicals were going to afflict everyone with cancer.  Carson’s real legacy?  Mass death and misery, but she’s still touted as an environmental saint and a great scientist.  In short, she captured the world’s imagination with the written word!  And that’s where the real battle has to be fought.
"The public has been misled by an unholy alliance of environmental scaremongers, funds-seeking academics, sensation-seeking media, vote-seeking politicians and profit-seeking vested interests." That can only be overcome with the written word.

Does anyone really think having organized visits to state and federal legislators is going to overcome the raw emotional appeal Carson's acolytes promote to the public? As important as these efforts are in stopping unwarranted laws and regulations against pesticides, it will not matter how well our arguments are presented, how much science we have on our side, how much evidence we can present to support our side on these issues - it simply won’t matter if we cannot overcome these lies and get the public on our side.  Until we can overcome the emotional - "it's for the children" - exhortations by these people and their allies in the media - we can’t win. 

They win the battle of emotion, they always have.  We win the battle of facts, we always have.  In order to win the war we must win the battle of emotion and the battle of facts.  The blogosphere has now given us that ability, and that’s where I intend to concentrate my energies, because the people who read blogs are the ones who count!

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