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Jan 20 2014

Oh, Henry

Henry Gee is an editor at Nature magazine. I’ve met him: he’s smart, he’s interesting, he’s extremely opinionated and often obnoxious, so we have at least one of those things in common. He and Dr Isis have a long-running feud — it may have begun with Gee publishing an awful piece of short fiction called Womanspace, or it may have been something to do with an argument at Science Online, but I don’t know and don’t care.

But now it has blown up in ways that are ultimately going to be damaging to Gee. Dr Isis is a pseudonymous blogger and scientist, and rather vindictively, Gee has outed her. Why? Because she was mean to him.

@nickwan I am a human being who has endured 3 years of unwarranted, undeserved unpleasantness from a pseudonymous blogger. That is all.

I have no sympathy at all. I’ve seen Dr Isis’ snipes at Gee — they’re cutting but sporadic, but she’s certainly not obsessed with him. Check her blog; there really isn’t that much about him there. I have people who haunt me every day; who have blogs dedicated to hating on me; they make photoshopped gifs and videos accusing me of the most outrageous things. And I’m not even a woman! I’ve got it easy compared to what many of the blogging women of my acquaintance have to face. Three years of unpleasantness? Compare that to ten years of getting photoshopped into gay porn and nonstop daily hate mail.

And so thin-skinned Gee, in multiple tweets, announced to the world the full name and professional affiliation of Dr Isis, also admitting that it was revenge for hurting him.

That’s enough background. Go read Dr Isis’s post explaining how an editor at Nature is trying to bully a pseudonymous blogger.

68 comments

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  1. 1
    Inaji

    Oh for pity’s sake. It outing people the go to solution for everyone who doesn’t like to hear a harsh word now? I, I don’t have anything. This is getting overwhelming.

  2. 2
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Gee, an egotistical fool thinking that outing a pseudonymous blogger is anything other than demeaning to his honesty and integrity? What a delusional fool. Take any science reporting esponsibility away from him. He doesn’t have the necessary qualifications….

  3. 3
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    So Gee’s solution to receiving “unwarranted, undeserved unpleasantness” is to make it plainly warranted and deserved. Brilliant strategy.

  4. 4
    Rip Steakface

    What the hell is he trying to prove by outing Dr. Isis? That he is some masterful super genius spy man that can track down anyone, anywhere?

    All it shows is that you’re a major asshole, and probably deserved any mean shit thrown your way.

  5. 5
    Inaji

    The ‘meanness’ wasn’t even remotely mean. Pointing out that women in STEM fields are treated badly isn’t mean. Pointing out that women in STEM fields are routinely ignored isn’t mean. It does seem more to be a case of “I don’t care for your icky opinions, you need to shut up, so I will out you!” Christ. It’s disgusting.

  6. 6
    Rip Steakface

    The ‘meanness’ wasn’t even remotely mean. Pointing out that women in STEM fields are treated badly isn’t mean. Pointing out that women in STEM fields are routinely ignored isn’t mean. It does seem more to be a case of “I don’t care for your icky opinions, you need to shut up, so I will out you!” Christ. It’s disgusting.

    Disgusting and pointless. The best (read: worst) kind of douchebaggery.

  7. 7
    Al Dente

    All Henry Gee has done is show the world that he’s a vindictive, thin-skinned bully.

  8. 8
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    [sarcastic comment about Gee's history deleted]

    Dr. Isis has my sympathies. Terrible.

  9. 9
    David Marjanović

    I’m with comment 3.

    who have blogs dedicated to hating on me

    Still? A few years ago I visited the three I knew, and they had all been defunct for a year or more.

    What the hell is he trying to prove by outing Dr. Isis?

    Why do you think he’s trying to prove anything? I think he’s simply trying to hurt her, perhaps because he can’t physically walk over and punch her in the face. Childish hate seems to be the most parsimonious hypothesis here.

  10. 10
    samihawkins

    Theres really no way to pretend this was about anything other than sicking the misogynist hordes on a woman who dared to speak up against him. If his problem was actually about her being ‘mean’ how would outing her change that? She can be just as ‘mean’ with her real identity as with an alias. The only way people knowing her real identity would shut her up is if she were flooded with threats against her for talking, which I think is exactly what he was going for.

  11. 11
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Christ, what an asshole. I can’t really add to what a lot of folks have said already regarding the details of his assholery (See Caine, Naked Bunny with a Whip, Samihawkins)

  12. 12
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    By the way, “[sarcastic comment about Gee's history deleted]” was mine. The point was that this is entirely consistent with his past behavior, but I didn’t want to imply, and don’t believe, that this particular bit of assclamery should have been foreseen by Dr. Isis or anyone else.

    Physioprof:

    The only thing Gee has achieved with his nasty antics is proving unambiguously that he is an unhinged vindictive freak with none of the qualities of discretion and discernment that are required of a journal editor and who should not be anywhere near the professional gatekeeper role he currently occupies.

    His firing will be well deserved.

  13. 13
    ChasCPeterson

    asshole.
    I hate to see this shit happen (even to people of whom I am not fond).

  14. 14
    Inaji

    SC:

    [sarcastic comment about Gee's history deleted]

    A lot of us remember. *adds silent sarcastic comment*

  15. 15
    ludicrous

    Nature.com has a privacy policy with many pages and links describing how concerned they are about your privacy.

    They offer free advice ; “…………. you should always be careful when deciding to disclose your personal information.”……………..and provide phone numbers for further information.

    I have a few questions about their privacy policy, I guess I’ll give them a call tomorrow. +44 207 843 4869 / +1 212 726 9200

  16. 16
    Inaji

    ludicrous:

    I have a few questions about their privacy policy, I guess I’ll give them a call tomorrow.

    Yes, one can see how concerned you are about privacy, what with the telephone number and all. :eyeroll:

  17. 17
    Cerberus is working overtime at the outrage factory

    Well clearly this proves his point of being under siege by uppity harassing women, what with his attempt to sic the douchebags of the internet on critics of his treatment of women and claim to be speaking for the entire journal as he does so.

    I now feel so much better about how his journal treats women now.

    Yeah, it’s shit like this that has me drifting farther and farther away from my Bio roots.

  18. 18
    Rey Fox

    Some people just can’t stand the idea of anon/pseudonymity (Mr. Kohl, anyone?). It’s Internet Tough Guy territory.

  19. 19
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    (And thank you Chas for not objecting to “freak”.

    We owe it to someone. :))

  20. 20
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    freak

  21. 21
    ludicrous

    Caine @ 16

    Sorry, I don’t know what to make of your comment. If you are wondering the source of the phone numbers here is the link: http://www.nature.com/info/privacy.html

    Phone numbers are at the bottom of the page.

  22. 22
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    That’s the one.

  23. 23
    carlie

    What the hell is he trying to prove by outing Dr. Isis? That he is some masterful super genius spy man that can track down anyone, anywhere?

    It’s about making her serve as a warning to others. It’s this decade’s equivalent of putting heads on pikes on the outer city walls. Do not cross me, or I will make your life whatever hell I feel like making it. Do not dare to criticize me, because I am more powerful than you and am not afraid to use it.

  24. 24
    ChasCPeterson

    yeah, I played that card already. Polysemy and all that.
    (love it when they let Neil play what he feels)

  25. 25
    Blake Stacey

    So, Henry Gee was upset over things Dr. Isis did. His response was to punitively out her, thereby ensuring that everyone would talk about his action instead, and she would essentially be above criticism.

    Well played.

  26. 26
    Ichthyic

    But now it has blown up in ways that are ultimately going to be damaging to Gee.

    this is standard MO for Gee.

    happened the very first time he came here and made some truly remarkably stupid statements in the comments on a thread, and then basically called anyone who countered him an antisemite.

    yeah…. good times.

    that was what… almost 7 years ago now I think?

  27. 27
    Inaji

    Rey:

    Some people just can’t stand the idea of anon/pseudonymity (Mr. Kohl, anyone?). It’s Internet Tough Guy territory.

    It’s also very stupid. I could change my nym here to read ‘Amelia Johnson’, and an idiot like Mr. Kohl would happily assume that’s my legal name.

    Carlie:

    It’s this decade’s equivalent of putting heads on pikes on the outer city walls.

    That’s an excellent definition.

  28. 28
    ludicrous

    Henry Gee appears to be unqualified as a science editor (ie.doesn’t understand what p<.05 means ) Coyne, Pinker, critcize an article he wrote in the Guardian last September.

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/9/23/nature-editor-henry-gee-goes-all-anti-science-why-evolution-is-true#

  29. 29
    Blake Stacey

    I predict that in five or ten years time, thanks to Dawkins and others, then scientists who profess any kind of religious belief will find it hard to get tenure, and then jobs, and then papers published, and finally their employers, responding to pressure, will be forced to fire them or retire them early. It will start with the Jews, of course, because these things usually do, as they have done many times in the past.

    Henry Gee in 2008

  30. 30
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    2008!

    I, too, am hoping it was an anomalous event brought on by a specific trigger or series of triggers, and not indicative of a larger problem.

    Ah, well.

  31. 31
    PatrickG

    @ Blake Stacey, 29:

    Your link goes to the main post. The comment you wanted is here.

    Only correcting because … wow, it deserves a direct link. If scientists with religious beliefs are so persecuted, how is this guy still an editor for Nature? I guess we haven’t hit the end of the predicted 5-10 year range yet.

    Plus, I hadn’t heard of this guy, and in reading that thread I simply had to laugh at his anti-Dawkins Harry Potter fanfic. No wonder Nature has been having some PR problems… :)

  32. 32
    brucegorton

    So, umm… Gee is more whizz than wiz?

  33. 33
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Having read all of the links in the OP, it appears that the “meanness” directed at Gee was nothing more than generalised criticism of the sexism endemic in STEM fields, criticism of Nature for upholding said sexism, finaand finally a proposed boycott of Nature when Gee published an horrifically misogynistic piece of mental wankery and then followed it up with the comment “I can’t believe we haven’t had more complaints”, and then followed that up with “I’m going to catch flak for this”, thus revealing that he knew full well the piece was offensive and published it anyway.

    In other words he’s a gigantic douche and deserved all the criticism he got, even if it was mild. And in revenge for such mild criticism of demonstrable douchebaggery he’s outed her. What an arse. I’m firmly on Dr. Iris’ side here.

  34. 34
    carlie

    Oh yuck. I was trying to figure out why he’d do it now, when it’s been a feud for so long, and something just occurred to me… Dr. Isis has written that she is actively on the job market right now. He may have been reading her blog and/or twitter, knew that, and timed this specifically to try to do the most damage to her reputation and to try to get her off her game. Which would just bring it to a whole new level of creepy and petty and vindictive.

  35. 35
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    *I’m firmly on Dr. Isis’ side here.

  36. 36
    robinjohnson

    PatrickG:

    If scientists with religious beliefs are so persecuted, how is this guy still an editor for Nature?

    Well, we can see from this that he defines “persecution” as “being held to account for your opinions”. An editor of a major science journal really ought to understand the difference.

  37. 37
    vireyda54

    How awful. I just cringe to think of all the nastiness that she got to her pseudonym for being a woman and talking on the internet that is now going to go to her professional contact information instead.

    This guy should definitely not hold access to private personal information for anyone.

  38. 38
    ChasCPeterson

    I was trying to figure out why he’d do it now, when it’s been a feud for so long

    Not a mystery. Isis publicly blamed Gee personally for Nature‘s publication of this letter*; he says he had nothing to do with it. Feud rekindled.

    *(good post by Janet Stemwedel on the letter here.)

  39. 39
    sonofrojblake

    then basically called anyone who countered him an antisemite

    Oh. He’s that kind of person. Say no more.

    I hadn’t heard of him before this. Now I have. So, for this non-scientist (and the people I’m going to tell about this), his identity is now “that guy who outed a pseudonymous blogger”, which is synonymous for all practical purposes with “asshole” (see also outings of anonymous police, education and health service bloggers over the last few years in the UK).

  40. 40
    senritsu

    It will surprise no-one to learn that he’s on Twitter, attempting to label criticism as defamation, and threatening to sue…

  41. 41
    rahulkedia

    Hey ,

    have commented a few times previously , mainly to point out the free passes often given to the “career commenters” here. Caine’s response to ludicrous here I think is one such instance. She misunderstood him/her and there was no apology forthcoming. There rarely is . There is a lot of petty nastiness from her , always calibrated to the least charitable interpretation. Some people’s sense of identity seems so reliant on posting here , that they see every shot taken , every invective hurled as a personal victory. This is self aggrandizement in the guise of “fighting the good fight” , it lacks intellectual integrity.

  42. 42
    sonofrojblake

    @rahulkedia: Every group, online and IRL, has a minority for whom the rules are different. Pointing it out is pointless, and construed by some as rude. It is better to adjust your interactions with the group accordingly and privately.

  43. 43
    carlie

    Not a mystery. Isis publicly blamed Gee personally for Nature‘s publication of this letter*; he says he had nothing to do with it. Feud rekindled.

    Thanks for that ref. I hadn’t seen that.

  44. 44
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    rahulkedia:
    Please take it to the Thunderdome.

  45. 45
    chigau (違う)

    rahulkedia #41

    Hey ,
    have commented a few times previously , mainly to point out the free passes often given to the “career commenters” here.

    Interesting hobby you have there.

  46. 46
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @rahulkedia

    So you come on specifically to tone-troll? Got it.

  47. 47
    rahulkedia

    @ Everyone

    Further dialogue from me on this will derail the topic at hand , so will try to make this my last post on this thread. Look , either you think I am tone trolling or maybe I have a modicum of a point . Obviously I am hoping for some of the latter but expect the former. The rationale behind this seemingly bizarre and futile hobby is that maybe it will strike a chord with a few people , and the holding of commenters to a high standard would be done a little less selectively. There isn’t much I have to add to my original post , if it didn’t resonate with you I don’t think anything I say further will.

  48. 48
    Rey Fox

    Do not dare to criticize me, because I am more powerful than you and am not afraid to use it.

    In light of that, I should amend my original characterization of it as Internet Tough Guy behavior, since the ITG is typically a powerless individual overcompensating. Still, there just seems like a lot of toxic masculinity is wrapped up in the insistence on using real identities, a sense of outrage that some critic out there doesn’t have a face to punch.

  49. 49
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Every group, online and IRL, has a minority for whom the rules are different. Pointing it out is pointless, and construed by some as rude. It is better to adjust your interactions with the group accordingly and privately.

    Wait, there are people who are okay with this kind of dynamic instead of having to bend over backwards not to notice it so they don’t feel compelled to do something?

    …that’s…really uncomfortable.

  50. 50
    ludicrous

    sonofrojblake @ 42

    You win the snark of the day, maybe the week. Hope ‘they’ don’t catch on, doesn’t look like they will.

    rahulkedia, nice try, thanks. I am no longer suprised by the reactions to your comment.

  51. 51
    gillt

    Dr. Isis:

    Henry referred to me as an “inconsequential” scientist

    For an editor of a high impact journal–that makes careers–to say this is unquestionably kicking down and threatening since editors are gatekeepers for submitted manuscripts. If he’s fired from Nature, I’ll write him a letter of rec for DeNovo.

  52. 52
  53. 53
    Cerberus is working overtime at the outrage factory

    ludicrous-

    So you’re an admitted overprivileged troll actively derailing a discussion of sexism to pull the same whine about how minority group members are just so meeeeeeaaaannnnn and aren’t deferential enough to privileged white dudes, have no interest in learning the blog rules so as to best handle any genuine criticism, and are generally pulling the same tone troll bullshit we’ve seen a hundred thousand times before.

    And we’re supposed to assume good faith in your arguments because…

    I mean, is it a transitive power of white maleness thing or are you just a fucking moron?

  54. 54
    rahulkedia

    @Cerebrus

    er , I am the one who started the derail so maybe you are confusing me with ludicrous ? If that’s the case the only thing I would like to point out is that white and overpriviliged doesn’t seem an accurate description of a “brown” person from the third world.

  55. 55
    Cerberus is working overtime at the outrage factory

    rahulkedia-

    Yeah, sorry, I meant to address you.

    And here, assuming maximum charity, do you see why it would be counterproductive to your aims to be an admitted troll whose only contributions was concern trolling regulars to make a “grand point” that you hope will “elevate” the commentariat?

    If you have a point, it will be lost in the demonstrable bad faith of the execution and loses all ability to “make an impact” as it were.

    Especially seeing as how dishonest concern trolls sniping at regulars for being “cliqueish” are about a dime a dozen and generally are shown to be the same handful of sock-puppeting assholes.

    If you are in good faith, you’ve made it as difficult as possible to be taken that way and that sucks for you.

    And in the more likely case that you are arguing in bad faith, well, yeah, we’ve seen it a hundred times before.

  56. 56
    David Marjanović

    Henry Gee appears to be unqualified as a science editor (ie.doesn’t understand what p<.05 means )

    Eh, he just gave a too superficial explanation of what it really means. Gee’s wording:

    For example, one might be able to accord a value to one’s conclusion not of “yes” or “no” but “P<0.05”, which means that the result has a less than one in 20 chance of being a fluke. That doesn’t mean it’s “right”.

    doesn’t contradict what it really means: that the result has a less than a 1-in-20 chance of occurring even if the null hypothesis is correct, with by far the most common null hypothesis being that everything is a fluke, no correlation or causation, nothing to see here, move along.

    On all of Gee’s other claims, however, I’m with Coyne (for a wide definition of “the chimpanzee”), and it goes without saying that Coyne’s more detailed explanation of the p value is correct. Also, it gets yet weirder.

    BTW, why didn’t you link straight to the source? Why drag richarddawkins.net into it, especially when it only reproduces the first three paragraphs?

    Dr. Isis has written that she is actively on the job market right now.

    Oh *puke*.

    Christ, what an asshole.

    Caine’s response to ludicrous here I think is one such instance. She misunderstood him/her and there was no apology forthcoming. There rarely is . There is a lot of petty nastiness from her , always calibrated to the least charitable interpretation. Some people’s sense of identity seems so reliant on posting here , that they see every shot taken , every invective hurled as a personal victory. This is self aggrandizement in the guise of “fighting the good fight” , it lacks intellectual integrity.

    You, too, are misinterpreting Caine. As far as I can tell, she’s been – much like Cerberus, BTW – through so much horrible shit that she gets very upset about everything that reminds her of it. Most of the time, this is in fact very useful in making people notice what they’re about to quietly imply.

    The rest of the time I get angry at her. :-)

  57. 57
    rahulkedia

    @ Cerebrus
    The assumption of bad or good faith is yours to make and I will not look to sway you or anyone else on that point . What I take issue with are the baseless accusations of “white privilege” and sockpuppetry. Following my nym link would have disabused you of the first notion and since I post only with this nym , you can search for my posting history for the second ( or ask PZ for an IP check if you are so inclined) Why is it okay to make cavalier accusations without foundation ? Why is it okay to discard parsimony and evidence ? This is precisely the sort of behaviour I am trying to point out.

  58. 58
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Why is it okay to discard parsimony and evidence ? This is precisely the sort of behaviour I am trying to point out.

    You aren’t using either. More than vague accusations are required. The null hypothesis isn’t you are right until shown wrong, but that you are wrong until you show you are right.

  59. 59
    Cerberus is working overtime at the outrage factory

    rahulkedia @57

    I’m sorry, my liege, I had no idea you were king of the universe and that I was supposed to react as a blank slate to your actions, discounting the all-too-frequent occurrence of bigots and trolls using bad-faith tactics to realize that you were the most special of snowflakes and were oh so deserving of the special treatment. I’m terribly sorry. But in my defense, my cold is affecting my vision a little bit, so I somehow missed the halo of specialness that would have clued me in that you were worth treating with only the highest deference instead of going with the most likely explanation.

    All right, my king, let me just brush away this unpleasant distraction of yet another power-tripping asshole deciding that siccing the internet assholes on a female critic in a way that not at all suggests a collusion of terrorism against female scientists and we can focus on the most important conversation of the day, your feelings that women aren’t being deferential and respectful enough on this particular thread.

    No, no, take all the time in the world, for you are my Lord, highest above high and deserve only my complete focus and respect.

  60. 60
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Cerberus

    deserve only my complete fetus and respect.

    FTFY

  61. 61
    Pierce R. Butler

    Perhaps Henry G was overwhelmed by Bill Clinton nostalgia, and became fixated on President 42′s epistemic koan:

    It all depends on what is is…

  62. 62
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    That guy isn’t a tool… he’s the whole shed.

  63. 63
    Stacy
    I have a few questions about their privacy policy, I guess I’ll give them a call tomorrow.

    Yes, one can see how concerned you are about privacy, what with the telephone number and all. :eyeroll

    @Caine, ludicrous posted Nature’s publicly posted phone numbers, so that anybody who’d like to call them and express their displeasure at Gee’s asshattery may do so.

    @sonofrojblake

    @rahulkedia: Every group, online and IRL, has a minority for whom the rules are different. Pointing it out is pointless, and construed by some as rude. It is better to adjust your interactions with the group accordingly and privately

    Fuck that shit.

  64. 64
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @stacy & @sonofrojblake

    I posted here about out-group rules, in-group exceptions with regards to Pharyngula.

    It’s OT, so I think any further comments on that topic should probably be restricted to ThunderDome.

  65. 65
    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD

    Apparently he’s deleted his Twitter account. Well, Gee.

  66. 66
    carlie

    Veeeery interesting.

  67. 67
    ChasCPeterson

    he’s deleted his Twitter account

    since that’s where Isis’s name could be found, it’s a good thing.

  68. 68
    davidwhitlock

    I highly recommend the Coyne article. It explains a lot.

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/nature-editor-henry-gee-goes-all-anti-science/

    As I understand it, Gee is projecting. He is imputing to all scientists his own psychological state.

    Having an anti-science demagogue as a Senior Editor of Nature has to have a big impact on their quality. Now I understand the emphasis on hype and fad science over quality.

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