As I blogged earlier, Tyler Cowen said that on his blog he can say what he really thinks, unlike other economists, who are often unable to say what they really think. Here is another example of the same thing from a blogger who writes about stuttering:
At least four [researchers] have told me that they try not to provoke or openly criticize work by a big name [researcher], because they are scared of having a paper rejected or getting no funding. Actually, they like me because I say what they do not [dare] to say [for] political reasons! So view my blog also as the voices of some in the research community!
This blogger isn’t a researcher so his situation isn’t the same as Tyler’s. But my point is the same: Blogs allow uncomfortable truths to be said that otherwise would not be said.
It would be interesting to get more opinions on this topic from researchers at the universities. If true, blogs will be very beneficial to the academic task of participating in and informing public debate. Of course, there might still be a temptation to misrepresent the state of research, or even your own scientific opinions, for public policy preference reasons.
Either way, I find science blogging interesting and often worth reading.