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May 24 2012

Deep rifts!

So, as I mentioned, Stephanie did those two posts on sexual harassment among teh atheists and what to do about it, and others did related posts, some of which I linked to yesterday, and then naturally Abbie Smith and her pals responded that THEY ARE ALL TOO UGLY TO BE HARASSED SO HA, and Jen hinted that there’s something just a little childish about that approach. (Still with me? And this isn’t even all of it, I assure you.) Now PZ has a post saying he won’t be accepting any invitations to conferences where Abbie Smith is also speaking.

The latest uproar from the misogynist mob is over a rumor that there is a secret list of people who won’t get invited to conferences. There is no list. There are petty people who think calling someone ugly is reasonable behavior, people who have not yet grown out of junior high school. There are personal preferences, as well.

For instance, I will not participate in any conference in which Abbie Smith is a speaker. If I’m invited, and later discover that she is also invited, I will politely turn down the offer.

Why? Well, “adamgordon” dug up one example of why, quoting Abbie Smith commenting on her own blog in comment #14:

Im not working full days this week because Ive got a bad cold (*sigh* virologist infected with a virus). How is Jen reading blog comments/writing posts/etc in the middle of a work day? Weird…

I guess when youre young and pretty like her, you dont have to work as hard as other scientists.

http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2011/11/26/periodic-table-of-swearing/comment-page-50/#comment-42913

That’s why, along with many more of the same quality.

Jen was awarded a NSF grant fellowship about a month ago, you know. Those aren’t easy to get, to put it mildly. I’m not completely sure she needs Abbie Smith’s advice on how to do better.

32 comments

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  1. 1
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Ophelia, maybe you’d like to make clear that the comment is from Abbie, not from adamgordon who just heroically went down into the slimepit to return to us with that quote.
    Right now it reads like it could be his

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    Thanks, Giliell, done.

  3. 3
    hyperdeath

    Jen also has infinitely times as many publications as Abbie. (At least for certain definitions of division by zero.)

  4. 4
    eric

    That comment #14 appears in a thread about a video, which the owner made her take down for copyright infringement. That is somewhat amusing, though I don’t know why.

    The sheer gratuitousness of the insults is what really gets me. Someone asked her why she hadn’t been posting. Answer: she’s got a cold, and Jen’s career success is due to her looks. Huh?

  5. 5
    Leo Buzalsky

    I’m going to go mostly off topic here…

    How is Jen reading blog comments/writing posts/etc in the middle of a work day? Weird…

    Never mind Jen, I just wonder how some of you bloggers find the time to do all the things you do. Fast readers? Fast typers? I struggle just getting one blog post up most days. I’m jealous; what else can I say?

    Now on topic, I don’t think I could ever attend a conference with Abbie Smith as a speaker based on the childish things she has said.

  6. 6
    mnb0

    Abbie Smith behaves like a f*****g a*****e. Hyperdeath in @3 gives a plausible reason why.

  7. 7
    Anthony K

    How is Jen reading blog comments/writing posts/etc in the middle of a work day?

    I understand that this is uncharacteristic for a banker keeping bank hours.

    That is what Jen is, right? A banker, with a 9 to 5 job?

  8. 8
    michaeld

    Sooo….. how can we deepen this rift into a full blown split ;P

  9. 9
    carlie

    The sheer gratuitousness of the insults is what really gets me. Someone asked her why she hadn’t been posting. Answer: she’s got a cold, and Jen’s career success is due to her looks. Huh?

    That was the weirdest part to me, too. Is she sitting around thinking about Jen all the time? Is she the Jan Brady of science blogging?

  10. 10
    Zengaze

    Elevators Can take a long time to get back to the ground floor from the top, this one has and the stop button pressed for too long.

  11. 11
    Brian

    Agh, elevatorgate. I was really surprised when Jerry and Russell came out in support of Abbie, given the way she attacked Rebecca and anyone who didn’t agree with her and her troop (apologies to baboons) of misogynists. I dropped out of the blogging watching a bit over that and instead tried to learn Russian. :)

    Anyway, those links josh provided are great. Still reading ‘finally femenism 101′

  12. 12
    Jason Thibeault

    I think it’s really nice that Abbie and her cronies are negotiating an ostensible de-escalation on the eve of her nastier posts getting censored by National Geographic. And I think it’s especially nice that she’s getting comeuppance by the threat of being disinvited from speaking gigs where people she’s slurred so liberally are a higher priority.

  13. 13
    julian

    Are her threads being censored. I thought there was only a complaint and the threads are still there.

  14. 14
    Chris Lawson

    I like the way Jen is only successful in science because she is young and pretty, but on the other hand, doesn’t need to worry about getting sexually harassed at conventions because she’s too ugly.

  15. 15
    Jason Thibeault

    julian: well, I was just going by her Facebook complaint, assuming NatGeo is going to follow through now that the big re-theming has taken place.

  16. 16
    embertine

    I love it when people who are supposedly very busy blog to say tht their rivals should be too busy to blog.

    To Abbie: I think you and Jen are probably both busy and work very hard. I expect that, like so many other people who work full-time, you both manage to blog and read comments as well as working. Find something else to criticise because this is making you look like an idiot.

  17. 17
    Niall Anderson

    The “erv being censored by Nat Geo” meme seems to have taken hold, but it does look to me as if this was a misreading of the relevant Facebook post. The phrase about “They have complained about 4 posts…” ( sorry , not direct quote. Can’t find link at the moment) seems to be referring to the original complainant, not Nat Geo. i think Ms Smith can be criticised for a number of actions and comments, but it doesn’t look particularly impressive for several FtB bloggers to be pushing this likely-incorrect information. Can I suggest a pause for reflection and evaluation of the evidence?

  18. 18
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Niall Anderson
    It looks like you’re a bit bad at reading.
    The one FtB blogger who posted it, to my knowledge, is PZ. The confusion was cleared up in the comments.
    And if you read the exchange between julian and Jason carefully you’ll see that, although people are still a bit confused, they’re also trying to clear this up, which seems to be the opposite of creating the meme and legend of NatGeo’s censoring of Abbie’s.

  19. 19
    Niall Anderson

    Found the comment I was thinking of from that original PZ thread – # 81

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/05/21/the-great-renovation/comment-page-1/#comment-341400

    Is that what you meant Giliell? Can’t spot much discussion of this 9can you direct me to ocmment numbers/ links?) The main post has no updates or corrections attached that I can see.

    Also, at #15 above, Jason says “assuming NatGeo is going to follow through now that the big re-theming has taken place” – is that a safe assumption? Is there any evidence (directly) that Nat Geo are unhappy with comments at ERV?

    Jen McCreight’s current leading post makes the same claim, based on PZ’s post:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2012/05/oh-yeah-well-youre-ugly/

    Again, no updates/ corrections that I can see.

    I’m not trying to be snide or awkward, I think bloggers here are mostly getting it right, but there’s a downside to firing off blog posts based on other blog posts reporting hearsay of what someone might have said, who heard it from… etc etc.

  20. 20
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Niall
    Yes, that’s the comment I meant. There are two reasonable interpretations of that post, one is that “they” is NatGeo, the other one is that it’s the people complaining (who are alleged to be PZ, or Ophelia, or, name whoever Abbie hates)
    So far it seems like Nat Geo hasn’t done anything, but I’s day it’s too early to make that call.
    Especially since the source is not the most trustworthy.
    Personally, I’m glad those posts and all their comments exist the same way I’m glad about safe containers for toxic waste.

  21. 21
    Jason Thibeault

    Part of why I interpret “they” as NatGeo is knowing that they evidently uttered the dreaded words “standards and practices” when discussing taking over from Seed Media, according to Ed Brayton, PZ and Greg Laden. It’s a huge part of the reason why FtB exists at all. The idea was so odious to Ed that the parent company might ask him to take something down for any reason whatsoever, that he figured striking out on his own was the best option.

    It sounds like Abbie thought “oh no, NatGeo has been perfect angels and hasn’t asked anyone to do anything yet”, but then suddenly they are, because someone pointed out to them the slimepit. I have no idea who would have made the initial complaints, but really, anyone they’ve targeted (and possibly even former slimepit denizens who’ve fallen out of favor) could be responsible. But if NatGeo is going to bring the complaint to her and give her options for dealing with it, blaming the person who pointed them out is a lot like blaming a bullying victim for “tattling” and the bully getting in trouble.

  22. 22
    Niall Anderson

    Jason, thanks for responding. Can I suggest a thought experiment? Try to subtract ERV from the picture and replace with a different blogger (call himFred). Count the number of conditionals in #21 and then give me your assessment of the weight of evidence suggesting that Fred has been told to censor posts by Nat Geo. Would you feel happy to put up a post on your blog talking about Fred’s censorship woes?

  23. 23
    Y

    Why call “him” “Fred”? Why would this new blogger be male?

  24. 24
    Niall Anderson

    Well, it was either because I feel that some of the thinking on the specific point I’m making has been overly influenced by antipathy to Ms Smith (and therefore making the hypothetical blogger male might create some mental “distance” from that) or because I’m a raving misogynist.

  25. 25
    Ophelia Benson

    You have a point? What is your point? How do you know “they” is not NatGeo? Especially when you say you don’t have the original quote (so you’re just paraphrasing from memory, I take it?).

  26. 26
    C0ncentr@tedwater, OM

    FACTS are these:

    1) The Minnesota Doughboy declared that he knew fo sho that NatGeo would be sending their troop – whose shirts may OR MAY NOT be brown in color – into Abbie’s blog to strip it of nonfem posts/comments.

    2) This did not happen.

    3) The Minnesota Doughboy is a liar.

  27. 27
    julian

    PZ Myers is a middle aged white man and has a gut. Golly! Never thought anybody make so clever a joke on that. Willikers! You sure are something.

  28. 28
    Josh Slocum

    FACTS are these:

    * That you’re a piece of shit from Abbie’s slimepit.

  29. 29
    Niall Anderson

    Ms Benson: sorry, my point was that Jason Thibeault’s comment at 12 plus Jen McCreight and PZ Myers’s posts on this are examples of what you criticised in your blog post following this one chronologically – “How to make baseless accusations become true via repetition”. My reason for claiming this is that my view of the relevant Facebook post (which was quoted in the Pharyngula thread and I linked to in my comment #19) is that “they” clearly refers back to the complainant. Here’s the text:

    “Someone complained to NatGeo about ERV– said it was ‘sexist’ and ‘excessively vulgar’. Specific comments? No– they want all four of these *posts* taken down: ….
    NatGeo is being just as fine and fair as you expect them to be. Theyre great.” (URLs to 4 ERV posts removed to avoid spam trapping)

    My reading of this is “Someone complained. Did they complain about specific comments? No – they just want 4 whole posts taken down. Nat Geo are being fine about it”. I think that’s the fairest reading, if one can step back and put aside any dislike for ERV. Does this really support the contention that NG are censoring ERV? Currently, 3 FtB bloggers (plus maybe yourself?) seem to think so, hence my suggestion this is a developing meme based on a misreading.

    Hope this clarifies, rather than confuses.

  30. 30
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Niall Anderson
    I think there’S a second reasonable reading:
    Somebody complained to NatGeo about ERV. Nat Geo had a look and decided they wanted to have the 4 posts taken down.

    I absolutely admit that confirmation bias might have influenced people in reading it like that, just like I think that your desire to point out those errors influences you in finding your reading to be more reasonable.
    ++++

    Anyway, Concentrateddouchemuffin, picking the wrong but possible meaning of a sentence is a mistake, not a lie. Learn at least some basic English.

  31. 31
    Ophelia Benson

    Niall Anderson – I would say that’s the most charitable reading, not the most fair one. But then I have some background knowledge (which maybe you don’t) of Abbie Smith’s way of arguing, which tends to be herky jerky. That “…” of yours covered a lot of territory, didn’t it? If I remember correctly the two pieces of your quotation weren’t the same comment – the post-elipse part was in reply to a question that came after the first part.

    Now, it’s true that background knowledge is part and parcel of dislike, so it too can be biased. But lack of background knowledge is not always helpful either.

  32. 32
    Niall Anderson

    Ms Benson, we’ll probably have to remain in disagreement regarding fair versus charitable. I would like to make clear that in no way was I attempting to mislead with the ellipsis – I copied the text from the Pharyngula thread comment (link in my comment further up this thread), and simply removed 4 URLs, as I thought that number might trigger a spam trap. I can’t see that they change the interpretation, so that the ellipsis doesn’t “cover a lot of ground”. Now, that Pharyngula comment appears to present the text all as one comment – my apologies if this is not the case. Perhaps you are friends with Ms Smith on Facebook and can therefore see the original(s)?

    In PZ Myers original post he quotes this from ERV: “NatGeo have been just fine. Not being sarcastic. PZ was blatantly *lying* about censorship from NatGeo last year.” That looks a little like the end of the other piece, so perhaps that’s what you are thinking of?

    I note in passing you are doing what you criticised me for doing at post 25 (working from memory, not having the original quote). I’d also query whether any of the background information that you have and that I don’t relates to the NatGeo/ post removal question? I’m certainly aware that there is extremely bad feeling between the ERV faction and many of the FtB bloggers, and that things have got a bit vicious at times. Does that mean claims about Ms Smith no longer require evidence?

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