If a highly respected and liked Nobel Laureate can say it

Something Hilda Bastian said in a comment on Dorothy Bishop’s post on the media spin of Tim Hunt’s day out.

The differences here do not seem to be so much “what” was said, but whether or not it was meant to be “self-deprecating.” And that is rather beside the point. The statements included some extraordinarily hurtful stereotypes about a gender, and about one gender in the scientific workplace. That sends a message, if a highly respected and liked Nobel Laureate can say it, then there’s something ok with it. The outpouring of both sexist, misogynist, and now racist statements across the comment streams of newspapers and the internet generally, with people clearly thinking they have some kind of common cause with a Nobel Laureate, proves the point of how harmful social sanction for sexist remarks can be. That’s not less so if it’s a joke, and not less so if they are not intended to be malicious. Saying afterwards “hey, just kidding!” doesn’t make it alright.

All of that. This whole phenomenon of people raging about feminist lynch mobs is yet another bit of social sanction for sexist remarks (and sexist diatribes and sexist rants and sexist lectures). I’m not as depressed and disgusted as I might be, because there are a lot of excellent people pushing back against the sexism…but I’m still pretty disgusted by how quick people are to attack feminism while denying obvious sexism. [Read more…]

Call him a cynic

One of those think-pieces that just don’t need to be written…by Charles White, Deputy Editor of The Tab Durham.

Last week saw a landmark moment as LGBT and straight people celebrated equal marriage in America and another year of Pride –– just by changing profile pictures on Facebook.

You must have seen the rainbow photos which started appearing on your newsfeed from Saturday. If you’re straight you can add the colours to your profile and everyone will know you’re down with Pride.

Call me a cynic, but how long do you really think these pictures will stay up? In a few days, they’re bound to disappear –– one by one, Rainbow filters will be replaced by Instagram Valencia again.

[Read more…]

Illustrious company

Even someone who writes for the Telegraph thinks it’s bad and revealing that people are saying Tim Hunt did nothing wrong. Cathy Newman is a presenter for Channel 4 News and she thinks the “nothing wrong” claim is full of wrong.

[A] week after the pro-Hunt bandwagon really started to gather speed, broadcaster and writer Jonathan Dimbleby has leapt aboard and resigned his honorary fellowship at University College London in protest at its treatment of the Nobel prize-winning scientist.

He’s in illustrious company. The mayor of London Boris Johnson and fellow scientist Richard Dawkins have already publicly accused Sir Tim’s critics of a gross over-reaction.

So have Brian Cox and Brendan O’Neill. [Read more…]

Patients can be tricked into feeling better when they’re actually not

Originally a comment by latsot on Ask the rocks.

The placebo effect is real, no disputing that. It’s weird, it’s complicated and it’s wonderful. There’s no doubt that it’s helpful, sometimes.

But let’s be clear, it ain’t gonna cure your broken leg, your cancer or even that ache in your knee that everyone older than 40 gets on a Monday morning that makes them think about phoning in sick. That might just be me.

And let’s be doubly clear: many if not most of the advocates of things that are really placebos are trying to persuade vulnerable people that whatever horrible thing they are desperate to have cured can be cured by snakewater. Lots of people die because of it. [Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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 https://secularpolicyinstitute.net/world-future-forum-2015/.

[Read more…]

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

[Read more…]