My question is on the culture of science, not on speculating why @evograd specifically decided to keep his online presence anonymous.
I agree that there is definitely some level of unstated cultural assumption in science that doing anything else with your time other than thinking, writing, and researching about the latest, cutting edge science is not the best use of a scientist’s time. If we do it at all, it must be done because of obligation, or in hopes of supporting one’s research efforts. This applies not only to blogging against creationists or other skeptics, but also any sort of non-research activity, such as teaching, public outreach, advocacy for graduate students or underrepresented minorities in science, etc.
This culture is even felt at the graduate level. I feel that there’s an unspoken assumption - try to avoid teaching assistantships if you can in favor of research assistantships. If you really want to do TAs, that must be for utilitarian reasons, such as to increase your chances of getting hired in the future with your teaching skills (and thus being able to keep doing research in academia). Similarly, you can sometimes do public outreach, not primarily because it’s an important thing to do in itself, but because it might help with your visibility, getting funding and fellowships, and padding your CV, again in the hopes of getting that coveted tenure-track job at an R1 university, which is the supreme level of success for a PhD student.
I personally feel this unstated assumption (that research is supreme) extends in even more insidious ways, including in one’s personal life, namely the unstated assumption that ideally, one should be thinking and reading mostly about one’s specialized field of science even during free time. I often feel embarrassed to admit that I have other intellectual and personal interests, too. (Which shouldn’t be that surprising, seeing that I got educated at a liberal arts college.)
With all this in mind, I’m not surprised at all that even though something like what @evograd is doing is a public service (and one that demonstrates his competence as a scientist and teacher by being able to effectively refute mistaken views), it can still be viewed as embarrassing by fellow scientists to spend one’s time doing that, instead of trying to think up the latest cutting edge research ideas in evolutionary biology. Another real-life example is physicist Sean Carroll, who felt that even writing Spacetime and Geometry, a fairly popular, completely rigorous graduate-level textbook on GR negatively impacted his tenure case at University of Chicago.
But my question is: why should it be that way? There’s nothing inherently wrong if a scientist really loves the idea of doing pure research and wants to do nothing else. But that sort of Platonic pursuit of pure science does not apply the same way to everyone. For me, while certainly part of my passion in science is driven by the thrill of the act of research itself (namely, measuring a fundamental quantity of nature at a level of precision no one has ever done before), another motivation that I’ve had for pursuing science is the prospect of getting some training and competence that allows me to talk about science and physics in an informed and semi-authoritative way with everyone, not just fellow scientists, but also laypeople and people from other disciplines.
Why should this be viewed as embarrassing? Why should outreach and advocacy count as nothing, or even a negative, in one’s scientific CV? What I’m saying is that the situation @Herman_Mays identified should not be viewed as a feature of the scientific profession - it should be viewed as a bug.