Thankfully former

Tim Fenton at the blog Zelo Street has, like me, been watching the obsessive bullying by Louise Mensch of anyone who reported on Tim Hunt’s crappy sexist “jokes” at that fateful lunch in Seoul.

[A]s the first paper to indulge in whataboutery over Hunt’s comments was the Murdoch Times, it should surprise no-one that (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch has gone off on one about the story – and is still at it, two and a half weeks later. “He said it in a very lighthearted manner with no outward hint of malice, condescension, or derision” she claims of Hunt’s remarks, omitting that this was someone’s opinion, delivered after the event.

He shares a lot of her rude, aggressive, imperious, threatening tweets – a lot yet they are a fraction of the number she has sent. Stuff like this –

[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…]

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.

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…]

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.

[Read more…]


And now Damian Thompson at the Spectator blog joins the fun and of course it’s the usual tangle of inaccuracies and hyperbole.

Connie St Louis, director of City University’s Science Journalism MA, is the woman who brought Sir Tim Hunt’s career crashing down in flames by tweeting out allegedly sexist remarks that the Nobel Prize winner made at a conference in Seoul.

She didn’t bring Hunt’s career crashing down in flames – his career is not down, let alone in flames. His research is still his research; he still has his Nobel; he’s still a Fellow of the Royal Society. Some of the pro bono work he was doing is closed off, but that is far from having his career down in flames. And Connie St Louis wasn’t acting alone, and other people in addition to Deborah Blum and Ivan Oransky have corroborated the account.

He goes on to wonder why the Guardian/Observer and the BBC aren’t reporting on the Daily Mail’s big story about her exaggerated CV. My guess? It’s because they can tell that however puffed out Connie St Louis’s CV may be, that doesn’t make the several overlapping accounts of Tim Hunt’s sexist “jokes” go away.

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 . . .” …

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…

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…]