Human douchebaggery spins upon multiple axes »« Don’t ever do anything, in case your motives are Impure

Urban bloggers

Update: this post is confusing if you haven’t read the one before it. The article is a good article; my commentary continues from the previous post.

Another article on DN Lee and Scientific American, Nobody Ever Called Einstein A ‘Whore’. (Yes, yes, frisson, blah blah collective outrage, yadda yadda impure motives. Noted, Jeremy, now go monitor someone else for a few years.)

Danielle Lee is another one of its well-known scientific writers. Lee, a biologist who studies animal behavior, mammals and the ways organisms interact with their environment, earned a doctoral degree in biology from the University of Missouri–St. Louis, was named Young Professional of the Year by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, and her urban science blog was named as a finalist for the 2011 Black Weblog Award in the best science and technology category. When not blogging, Lee works for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. By all accounts Lee is well-known and well-respected in scientific circles…

It’s good to have some background.

Then there was Ofek, then Mariette DiChristina removed Lee’s blog post…

That’s when things really got ugly. Besides the ethical considerations of journalists removing whole stories from websites without warning or fuller explanation, Scientific American apparently failed to take into consideration how readers would react, especially those who had already seen the post. Not only was the initial story picked up by the ever popular Buzz Feed, the website specializing in viral content, also implicated Scientific American’s complicity in the controversy. Scientists around the globe are now protesting the magazine, taking to Twitter and other social media platforms to demand that their content also be removed from the site, stating their refusal to now use Scientific American’s materials in the classroom, and are dropping subscriptions. And they are calling on colleagues to take similar actions.

Aka the frisson of collective outrage. How dare scientists around the globe protest! How dare they make Danielle Lee feel supported instead of isolated and dismissed? How dare they, I tell you! It’s much better to steer clear of all possible frissons and leave everything as it is, including random people calling women whores when they feel like it.

…the oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the United States should have known better, even more so (one would think) since its editor is a woman. If nothing else editors should explain its relationship with Biology-onlineand the editor who is accused of calling Lee out of her name. One would also think that editors at Scientific American would be empathetic about scientists getting riled when their work is not respected, but something tells me that Einstein never had to worry about being called a “whore,” let alone an urban one.

Uh oh. Is that a reference to privilege? It’s all over.

Comments

  1. Silentbob says

    Off-topicish, sorry:

    I’m curious about this idiom…

    … the editor who is accused of calling Lee out of her name.

    It was in the original of this series of posts as well…

    He then called me out of my name.

    I never heard that before! What does “calling [someone] out of [their] name” mean? Is it the same as “he called me a name”?
    Sorry if it’s a dumb question, it just strikes a non-American as an odd construction.

  2. chrislawson says

    The other day I was walking by the river when I saw a drowning man. I was about to dive and help when I realised that doing so would give me a frisson of self-satisfaction, so I let him drown.

  3. Pteryxx says

    Silentbob, in this case I think this is the most likely interpretation beyond simply ‘insult’ ‘disrespect’ or ‘call names':

    http://www.crunkfeministcollective.com/2013/04/11/on-being-called-out-my-name/

    As a first generation college student I was not aware, during my undergraduate years, that most of my professors had a Ph.D. (or even what a Ph.D. was, or what that meant) so it was off-putting when I would be chastised for not saying Dr. ____. At the time, when I referred to a professor as Ms. or Mr. instead of Dr., it was not because I was trying to be disrespectful, it was quite the opposite. Being a “country blackgirl” my Mama always taught me to greet my elders, especially strangers, as Ms., or Mr. ______ (which is something I still do to this day), so the last thing I intended was to offend my professors. I simply and literally didn’t “know any better.”

    […]

    So, maybe that is why I have been tripping lately, astonished at the amount of times I have heard my first name escape the lips of students when they are referring to and/or engaging me. At first I felt ridiculous, I mean it’s not like I was being called “out my name,” but the more I thought about it and talked about it with colleagues the more I wondered if I wasn’t, in fact, being called out of my name by being called my first name.

  4. left0ver1under says

    Please do speak out about this and other situations, folks. One voice in support for those wronged (Ms. Lee, Miri) may not do much alone, but it adds up when enough people do it (re: getting fascistbook to remove the page). Silence doesn’t help – the person wronged isn’t getting support, and those who did wrong take silence as assent and approval.

  5. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    I think you’re misreading. the article, it’s clumsy, perhaps, but the author seems to think the outrage and response to Scientific American‘s suppression of Dr. Lee’s blog are justified. Where do they suggest the collective outrage isn’t reasonable or suggest that anyone had “impure motives”? Frisson is your term, not the author’s.

    However, the last sentence is particularly interesting.

    One would also think that editors at Scientific American would be empathetic about scientists getting riled when their work is not respected, but something tells me that Einstein never had to worry about being called a “whore,” let alone an urban one.

    It’s particularly badly-written too- it isn’t Dr. Lee’s work that is not respected- after all, wanting to republish it, even without payment, shows respect for the work- but Dr. Lee herself, but I wonder whether we are also supposed to remember that even if Einstein never had to worry about being called a “whore”, he was called a “hun”, a “communist”, a “jew” and other offensively- intended terms..
    Discourtesy, dishonesty and bad manners have a long tradition in science, even if they are more rapidly exposed now.

  6. rnilsson says

    Actually, sc_mess, I think you misread somewhat too. “Frisson” is not Ms Benson’s word but Dr Jerremy’s (see previous post) and she uses it here as a sarcastic rebuttal of his objection to “collective outrage” – in this particular case, even.

    And perhaps look a little deeper – the last few posts of this blog can cast some light on what went before.
    “Di-i-i-ig a little deeper in the well, boy. If you want a good cool drink of water you gotta dig a little deeper in the well.” -Eric Bibb, from the so-titled album.

    Hope this helps.

  7. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Apologies for misattributing frisson. All the same, I don’t think it’s relevant here. I’d assumed “Jeremy” was the author of the article quotes here. The article (it’s been revised since I first read it, maybe even more from when O.B. did) seems to regard the general outrage and hostility to <Scientific American as understandable and reasonable. What did interest me was that the author chose Einstein, who was also personally insulted and even threatened with death, as a contrast to Dr Lee, which suggests a certain ignorance of history.

    The other thing I still find curious is that Ofek was so stupid as not to realise the consequences of what they did. The personal hurt they could cause to Dr. Lee was obviously far outweighed by the professional damage they would do to the site they work on and this is so obvious that even in the moment between typing and posting they should have realised it. this has nothing to do with racism, sexism, pure malevolence or even bad manners. It’s a matter of common sense.

  8. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Misreading / missing context aside,

    -it isn’t Dr. Lee’s work that is not respected- after all, wanting to republish it, even without payment, shows respect for the work-

    Actually, the only thing demonstrated is a desire for publishable content from a scientist in a relevant field whose name happened to be accessible. Anything beyond that is pure speculation. Ofek may be a publishing person with no interest in science at all. Not saying that this minimum is necessarily the case, but respect is not necessarily demonstrated here either.

    But back to context: Yeah, I had to go and check the previous post (only) to understand what was going on in the opening paragraph. Otherwise, I’d still be all “WTF?”, as there is no Jeremy involved in the central story or the linked article. Sometimes, you have to minimally investigate what you are reading to get the picture, especially in formats like blogs.

    Do go have a look. Stangroom is another “interesting” piece of work.

  9. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Bah. My comment 8 was in late. Consider I had not seen 7 yet by the time I posted.

    Your point about Einstein is correct. The author is clearly ignorant of the facts in their choice of example.

  10. rnilsson says

    Well we can’t all know everything, you know :-)
    For example, I hadn’t heard about bigoted threats and insults to Einstein, or maybe forgot.

    On your last point re: stupidity of Ofek, we agree. Hard to see how anyone could not! Although I strongly suspect it does have everything to do with all four factors.

  11. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Stangroom is another “interesting” piece of work.

    That’s the polite description,@8. I think OB read the post here as if it were by someone like Stangroom when it isn’t. It’s clumsily sympathetic to Dr. Lee and other scientists’ responses.

    10:: the thing that puzzles me about Ofek is how a moment’s rage could so easily overwhelm personal and pro2fessional self-interest. A computer isn’t a place where people have irresistible impulses. Saying someone is an “urban whore” takes a moment. Pressing “reply”, typing the words, pressing “send” takes time and it only takes a moment’s thought to realise that that is stupid and self-destructive behaviour and to cancel.

  12. says

    Your point about Einstein is correct. The author is clearly ignorant of the facts in their choice of example.

    I doubt that. You might come to the same conclusion if you look up who called him what, where and especially: when. You might also find out—to your surprise, I s’pose—that he never got called anything just because of his gender and/or the color of his skin.

    PS: the use of the gender-neutral plural is not necessary if the actual gender is known. I hope you didn’t do it intentionally.

  13. rnilsson says

    Well, anyone can strike a nerve in anger. Some have a hard time apologizing for it afterwards.
    What seems so incredibly unprofessional to me is that the editor took sides against Dr Lee and then doubled down. Sawing off the branch you sit on – don’t do that.

  14. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    You might also find out…that [Einstein] never got called anything just because of his gender and/or the color of his skin.

    But he was insulted for his place of birth and his ancestry, Christoph Zurnieden. A whole school of physics- Deutsche Physik- was founded partly on the basis that Einstein was a jew so his theories must be false or even lies.
    This isn’t an attempt to excuse Ofek. merely to point out that science free of personal prejudice is an ideal that has never been achieved. It’s even harder now, when people don’t or won’t think about what they say, but that doesn’t make it any more forgivable.

  15. says

    Sorry about being confusing. I wrote this post very soon after the previous one and in a moment of forgetfulness about other minds, wrote it as if it were obviously a continuation of the previous one. My bad.

  16. Sili says

    So, maybe that is why I have been tripping lately, astonished at the amount of times I have heard my first name escape the lips of students when they are referring to and/or engaging me.

    Interesting how old-fashioned the US still is. Short of the occasional politician and most of the silly royalty noöne is addressed by anything but first name over here.

  17. says

    I think OB read the post here as if it were by someone like Stangroom when it isn’t. It’s clumsily sympathetic to Dr. Lee and other scientists’ responses.

    No. She realises that the post is sympathetic to Dr. Lee. She’s just responding to it with the same “argument” that Stangroom tweeted with, to show how absurd Stangroom’s attitude is.

  18. says

    @Silentbob #1 I’d never heard the phrase before either (I’m Canadian btw). After a bit of research I conclude it means something like “call someone by something instead of their proper name as a means of insulting or degrading them”.

  19. rnilsson says

    And now Popehat Ken has engaged:
    http://www.popehat.com/2013/10/13/biology-online-org-urban-whores-and-the-many-axes-of-douchebaggery/

    Biologist Danielle N. Lee blogs as “The Urban Scientist.” She admirably strives to widen the audience for science and explain how the fundamental principles of science can be observed in any environment. A few days ago she received an email solicitation from Biology-Online.org, an ass-ugly advertisement-encrusted content aggregator site. “Ofek,” a “Blog Editor” at Biology-Online, wrote Ms. Lee and asked her to contribute blog posts as a “guest blogger.” Ms. Lee asked some polite questions — how often, and do you pay your content providers — and upon receiving the answers, very politely declined.

    So Biology-Online “Blog Editor Ofek” called her a whore.

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