Jonathan Dimbleby

Energizer bunny still going.

Jonathan Dimbleby has resigned from his honorary fellowship at University College London in protest at its treatment of biologist Sir Tim Hunt after he made controversial remarks about women in science.

The broadcaster and writer accused the college of a “disgraceful” rush to judgment in forcing the Nobel prize-winning scientist to quit his honorary fellowship at UCL and urged other fellows to help change the college’s mind.

Dimbleby said: “The college has a long and honourable tradition of defending free speech, however objectionable it may be. Sir Tim made a very poor joke and it quite rightly backfired. He then apologised for that,” he told the Times.

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From an infinite supply

Emily Willingham on those misappropriated metaphors for being sharply criticized:

How many Nobel laureates does it take to screw up a position? By my current count, nine. I’m sure someone, somewhere, has already observed the rich irony of using the collective privilege and power of the Nobel to try to shut up the less-powerful by claiming that they’re going to chill freedom of expression. If not, consider that observed.

The Tim Hunt story is redux redux, as though every time a stone is shifted from the power structure, another one simply takes its place from an infinite supply of the components of existing power.

Well – there’s a sentence I wish I’d written.

Just as nine Nobel laureates are evidently incapable of understanding how a man who calls for segregated labs might not be the best fit for an institution with a mission of diversity, many of their ilk also seem incapable of understanding the implications of the terms they select to attack those they wish to shut up. Herein, I offer a useful resource.

Lynch mob: I’ve written about this before, so I’ll just paraphrase me: The phrase ‘lynch mob’ is a loaded one. Here’s what lynch mobs did and do. Charles Blow has written in depth about how indefensible it is to co-opt this term to characterize the by-any-measure relatively mild complaints about … well, anything. Meanwhile, women of Twitter get this.

She goes through the whole list. It’s good.

The World Future Forum is the big annual event of the Secular Policy Institute

Edwina Rogers is emailing people to get them worked up about a thing they can go to. (Tim Hunt will be there, doing standup.) (I kid, I kid.)

Hi [your name here]

You’re invited to the most VIP political gathering in secular history.
The World Future Forum comes October 25-26 to DC.
It’s run by the Secular Policy Institute, the world’s biggest secular coalition and world’s biggest secular think tank.
Network with members of US Congress, big donors, international secular leaders, and top thinkers like emcee Lawrence Krauss, bestselling author and physicist, and keynote Gregory Copley, former US National Security Advisor.
Tickets will sell out quickly! Get yours at

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Ask the rocks

Let’s have some refreshment – wisdom from a witch.

[screams, cries of “witch hunt! witch hunt!”]

No no no no, not that kind, and not the kind who object to sexism; the other kind.

While a big part of magic is claiming the parts of ourselves that are powerful, for me it’s also about discovering a solid set of tools to heal myself and my community. So however you identify on the witchy spectrum, here are five simple witchy practices that anyone can do to take care of themselves, and that most of us should be doing more often.

Eye of newt, toe of frog? No, casting circles of protection.

Each and every one of us has the right to decide what kind of energy we want surrounding us. Circles of protection help with that. You can put them around your bedroom or your whole house (provided you have permission of everyone who lives there). You can even put them around event spaces. You can cast them for just a night or you can put one up permanently. [Read more…]

Piled higher and deeper

Louise Mensch (the Sun columnist and failed Tory MP) has been harassing people on Twitter for hours with grandiose claims about a story about to appear that would PROVE Tim Hunt really was joking. She tweeted this implausible promise at Deborah Blum and Connie St Louis and David Colquhoun among others – addressing DC as ‘Professor’ [in scare quotes], which is staggeringly rude even for the staggeringly rude Louise Mensch. She told all these people they would have to resign once the story appeared.

Then the promised story appeared. It’s in the Sun, and it’s ludicrous.

The headline and subhead:

‘Sexist’ Sir Tim WAS joking, photo shows
Picture could prove top scientist was wrongly hounded out of his job

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Worries about if she can manage well

Sexism? What sexism?

Via Twitter:

Daniel Singleton ‏@dasingleton Jun 6
Reviewer to my daughter-in-law: You have kids, give up on silly pursuit of science. #fuckthissexistshit

Embedded image permalink

Strong point
-The stay will significantly benefit both the candidate and the host unit.

Weak point
-Worries about if she can manage well between the work and the family.

I don’t see any sexism, do you see any sexism??

Just that little drop

Uta Frith FRS has an excellent, hope-restoring article on the Royal Society’s science policy blog In Verba.

Little did I know that, having just started as chair of our new Diversity Committee, that gender bias would suddenly come into the spotlight of public opinion. This followed the unacceptable remarks at a public event attributed to one of our most distinguished Fellows. Sir Tim Hunt was baffled by the effect of his words on others, and I admit that I too was baffled, but for very different reasons.

His remarks at first seemed to me just a drop in the bucket of millions of similar ones made every day about women in the workplace, often by decent men who would be horrified to be regarded as misogynists. For me they confirmed an age old stereotype of women as trouble, so old that it goes back to Adam and Eve. But they were the drop that finally caused the bucket to flow over. They became a catalyst for a deep-seated bitterness to pour out of people, not only women, who simply felt that enough was enough. This was an outpouring waiting to happen. It needed just that little drop.

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This unfortunate incident must not be portrayed as a private story told as a joke

Also of interest, the letter that the Korea Federation of Women’s Science and Technology Associations sent to Tim Hunt asking him to apologize for being so obnoxious at the lunch they hosted.

Dear Sir Tim Hunt,
We, the members of the Korea Federation of Women’s Science and
Technology Associations (KOFWST), the sponsoring organization of the WCSJ
luncheon on June 8, 2015, decided to request your official acknowledgement
and apology for the remarks made at the luncheon. Attached, please find,
our call for apology. We hope to get your response within 24 hours. Your
prompt and sincere apology is the least we can ask for any future
collaboration with Korean scientists.
Yours sincerely,
Hee Young Paik, President [Read more…]

Harvard must be slipping

There’s a conservative blog called Legal Insurrection. I’d vaguely heard of it before, but that’s all. I saw that it had a post about Connie St Louis, so I took a look. I read the first few sentences, and was amazed. I skipped down to the comments and was amazed more. I googled Legal Insurrection and found the handy Wikipedia digest in the left margin:

William A. Jacobson
William A. Jacobson is an American lawyer, professor, and conservative blogger. Jacobson is a 1981 graduate of Hamilton College and a 1984 graduate of Harvard Law School.
Education: Hamilton College, Harvard Law School

Oh yes? Well then you would think he would be able to get the most basic facts right. [Read more…]