“Nothing wrong with witty satire”

The Tim Hunt War continues. It could have been over in 24 hours, but now it’s become the site where the issue of sexism in STEM is getting a thorough airing, so I’m just going to keep on reporting on it.

Dawkins is still digging that hole deeper and deeper.

1.2 million followers on Twitter, remember. Gets his letters published in the Times. Large megaphone; conspicuous platform. Influencer.

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 8 hours ago
Am I naive to be disconcerted by a lack of kindness, of empathy, on Twitter? There’s so much unforgiving, merciless, even cruel condemnation

Isn’t it interesting that he’s saying that now? After responding to a tweet that called Tim Hunt “a shitty person”? Isn’t it interesting that he didn’t say that in 2011 or 2012 or 2013 or 2014? Isn’t it interesting that he’s ignored the relentless harassment and bullying of women on Twitter, much of it by his fans defending his every word, but is upset when it’s addressed to someone like him? I think it’s interesting. [Read more…]

The elite closes ranks

Another one for the reading list: Chocolate and Vodka.

[W]hether or not Sir Tim was joking is ultimately irrelevant. He should never have spoken those words in the first place. As a Nobel Laureate, a professor and a Knight of the British Empire, Sir Tim definitely has power, influence and authority. He therefore has a responsibility to think very carefully about the words he uses in his public and professional lives.

People in Sir Tim’s position have an obligation to use their power to help, support and inspire others, not to denigrate a group of people — in this case, women — who are already at a disadvantage. Sir Tim failed in that obligation. He did not take his responsibilities seriously. Instead, he abused his position of power and has either refused to or been incapable of understanding the impact his words have had, or how he is supporting the institutional sexism rife in academia, and particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths).

[Read more…]

Guest post: Do you really expect us to unravel the work of more than a century in order to knit you a comfort blanket?

Originally a comment by Maureen Brian on Charles Seife is telling the same story.


You don’t sound as though you’re old enough to have been around in the ’60s and ’70s but believe me we achieved a hell of a lot then. There is no need to go back and do that work again. It is done.

Achievements included, depending upon where you are, anti-discrimination laws and the codes of practice in place in most institutions and big companies, a means of redress for discrimination, direct or systemic, access to better education, equal pay (in theory) – the list is too long but we’ve got the works in law and in policy at least on paper. [Read more…]

Nothing less than the silencing

If nothing else, at least I’m finding some brilliant people to read the blogs of which, and to follow on Twitter and all that good stuff.

Like Richard P Grant at the Guardian’s Occam’s corner.

[W]hat is happening now is nothing less than the silencing of voices that should be heard. Voices of people who took issue with what was said in Korea, who highlighted the sexism, and who said that such comments were harmful and should not go unchallenged.

Again, it doesn’t matter whether you agree with those voices, or which side you are on; what matters is that respectable academics still low down on the career ladder are being silenced by those who hold positions of real power.

[Read more…]

It’s not all about him

To counteract the bad taste left by Dawkins’s interventions (and if you want to feel even sicker you can always check out Louise Mensch on Twitter, who is in a positive lather of bullying), there is the very intelligent discussion on Athene Donald’s blog. She defends Hunt, but she does it reasonably as opposed to shoutingly. (Although she does use the phrase “lynch mob,” which I really wish people would stop doing.) In particular she says making a fuss about Tim Hunt is easy, and everyone should be doing the less easy things too. She gives a list:

We should all be pro-active, not look the other way. Here’s an easy list to help people make that commitment. Everyone should be able to find one they are in a position to carry out.

  • Call out bad behaviour whenever and wherever you see it – in committees or in the street. Don’t leave women to be victimised;
  • Encourage women to dare, to take risks;
  • Act as a sponsor or mentor (if you are just setting out there will still always be people younger than you, including school children, for whom you can act);
  • Don’t let team members get away with demeaning behaviour, objectifying women or acting to exclude anyone;
  • [Read more…]

Charles Seife is telling the same story

Then again…

Charles Seife ‏@cgseife 17 hours ago
.@guyadams Don’t find @connie_stlouis trustworthy? I’m telling the same story. Ad-hominem away.

Guy Adams is the reporter who wrote the Daily Mail piece about Connie St Louis. Charles Seife is the guy who asked the EU official if he’d provided an actual transcript and got the answer “no.”

Charles Seife ‏@cgseife 17 hours ago
.@guyadams And, speaking of accuracy, I’m another journalist who’s given a “detailed account of the toast.” Your own paper quoted me.

And then:

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 13 hours ago
Devastating dissection of the credentials of the only journalist still denying Tim Hunt’s “Now seriously . . .” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3141158/A-flawed-accuser-Investigation-academic-hounded-Nobel-Prize-winning-scientist-job-reveals-troubling-questions-testimony.html …

Charles Seife @cgseife
.@RichardDawkins Now you’ve crossed the line into intellectual dishonesty. You know quite well that she’s not the only such journalist.

And so the quest to be treated as equals ground on into another decade…

Obama sings

Bloomberg has the whole text of Obama’s eulogy. I watched it all over again on CNN last night.

Friends of his remarked this week that when Clementa Pinckney entered a room, it was like the future arrived, that even from a young age, folks knew he was special, anointed. He was the progeny of a long line of the faithful, a family of preachers who spread God’s words, a family of protesters who [worked to] expand voting rights and desegregate the South.

Clem heard their instruction, and he did not forsake their teaching. He was in the pulpit by 13, pastor by 18, public servant by 23. He did not exhibit any of the cockiness of youth nor youth’s insecurities. Instead, he set an example worthy of his position, wise beyond his years in his speech, in his conduct, in his love, faith, and purity.

As a senator, he represented a sprawling swath of lowcountry, a place that has long been one of the most neglected in America, a place still racked by poverty and inadequate schools, a place where children can still go hungry and the sick can go without treatment—a place that needed somebody like Clem.

[Read more…]

Make Ramadan a month of disasters for the infidels

Meanwhile yesterday there was that triplet of terror-murders in Tunisia and Kuwait and France.

In a matter of hours and on three different continents, militants carried out attacks on Friday that killed scores of civilians, horrified populations and raised thorny questions about the evolving nature of international terrorism and what can be done to fight it.

On the surface, the attacks appeared to be linked only by timing.

[Read more…]

A member of the Royal Institution

Now for the Daily Mail article itself. It’s damning.

On the other hand it – of course – makes some mistakes of its own, such as the headline for instance:

A very flawed accuser: Investigation into the academic who hounded a Nobel Prize winning scientist out of his job reveals troubling questions about her testimony

Nobody hounded him out of his job. He didn’t have “a job”; he’s retired; he had honorary positions.

Then there’s this in the body of the article:

Then, early this week, the simmering dispute took a further, seismic twist.

[Read more…]

Yes, it’s the Daily Mail, but

The desperate reaction continues.

The Daily Mail did a piece exposing major holes in Connie St Louis’s CV, and Dawkins is claiming that that means Tim Hunt has been “the victim of an injustice.” Of course it doesn’t mean that. If St Louis were the sole source for the story of what Tim Hunt said, then the Mail piece would throw everything in doubt – but she’s not, so it doesn’t.

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 8 hours ago
Yes, it’s the Daily Mail, but it’s the most thorough account I’ve seen of the Tim Hunt affair. Detailed & convincing. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3141158/A-flawed-accuser-Investigation-academic-hounded-Nobel-Prize-winning-scientist-job-reveals-troubling-questions-testimony.html … [Read more…]