Human douchebaggery spins upon multiple axes

Ken White at Popehat takes a slightly different angle on the SciAm-Ofek-Danielle Lee train wreck. He agrees that it’s sexist but adds that it’s also marketerist.

Many bloggers have written about this as a clear example of how sexism is pervasive in the sciences.  After all, how else can you explain the interpersonal dysfunction of someone demanding free content from a female scientist and then calling her a whore when she refuses?

But I think sexism is, at least, an incomplete explanation.

I have no doubt that the scientific community is awash in ignorant and reflexive sexism.  I’ve heard too many stories from loved ones, classmates, and clients1 in the sciences to think otherwise.  But human douchebaggery spins upon multiple axes.  It may be that the most powerful axis in play here is not sexism, but marketing.

¹Represent a female cardiothoracic surgeon and listen to her stories and next time you go under the knife you may be tempted to check to see if the guy under the mask is Tucker Max.

Human douchebaggery does indeed spin upon multiple axes. That’s an important truth, and an elegant way of condensing it.

Anyway yes. There is also the whole “ask people to write for you for nothing and abuse them when they say no” angle and that is interesting on its own, even without the sexism.

Ofek is currently in the business of spamming bloggers to ask them to contribute free content to a sordid little advertising-heavy aggregator site in order to increase traffic and thereby increase advertising revenue to Ofek and Ofek’s team.  In other words, Ofek has ceased to be a scientist and begun a career as a marketeer.

And marketeers are entitled douchebags.  Within the context of online marketing, Ofek’s behavior is perfectly typical.  Ofek’s belief — that he is entitled to profit off of Ms. Lee’s work, and that she’s worthy of abuse if she objects — is the apotheosis of marketeer culture.

You can hear echoes of Ofek in the marketeer who called the Bloggess a “fucking bitch” when she snarked about receiving Kardashian spam.  You can hear it in the offense taken by the spammer who showed up in our comments, outraged that we called out his spam.  You can hear it in the attitude of comment spammers who suggest that if bloggers don’t want comment spam they shouldn’t have open comments.  You see it in the buffoonish look-how-successful-I-am rants of marketeers who defend their vocation.  You hear it in the rancor of marketeers who believe they own hashtags on Twitter and that anyone who uses them for criticism is a spammer.  You can hear it in the angry entitlement of the marketeer who threatens me with a lawsuit when I call out his deceitful methodology.

And science education? Not so much.


  1. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Ofek has ceased to be a scientist and begun a career as a marketeer.

    …which explains why in the examples given people become so futilely angry when someone points it out.
    It gives a convincing explanation for Ofek’s self-destructive stupidity- he (I think Ofek is a man- referring to women as whores is a characteristically male form of abuse, I’m afraid) is so inspired by guilt about what he himself does for money that projected rage overpowers his obvious self-interest.

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