Lawrence Krauss has been cut off from the Richard Dawkins Foundation and Center for Inquiry, after years of being one of their most prominent featured speakers. Now he has also resigned from the board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and has been put on paid leave from Arizona State University.
The university, in a statement issued late Tuesday, said it began a review of the professor’s conduct after it was contacted for the article.
“In an effort to avoid further disruption … as the university continues to gather facts about the allegations, Krauss has been placed on paid leave and is prohibited from being on campus for the duration of the review,” ASU said in a written statement.
Krauss is busy denying everything. It’s kind of shocking how rapidly his academic empire is crumbling around him, but then I have to think of the women who never had a chance to build a little academic province of their own, and I guess I can’t feel too bad about it.
He does still have one bulwark desperately making a last stand for him: Wikipedia.
…as of today, March 5, Krauss’ Wikipedia page has no mention of any recent developments – not the allegations themselves, not Krauss being barred from multiple college campuses, not several of his upcoming talks being canceled. If you look at the talk page, you can see several contributors deleting edits by other users that mention these things, and insisting that the Buzzfeed article is just “gossip” and that “Buzzfeed isn’t usually considered a reliable source”, and that this merits totally excluding any mention of it.
Note: as of today, the 7th, the Wikipedia article does now include a paragraph on the allegations — I guess since the article was touting his ASU position and his leadership of the Bulletin, and those are now no longer operational statements, that had to be amended.
That dismissal of Buzzfeed has become the routine defense of Krauss — and these clever, serious, objective skeptics don’t even seem to notice that they’re committing the genetic fallacy (also, skimming through the wiki talk page, they commit another fallacy: that because these accusations are serious, if they were true, he would have been arrested, therefore they don’t need to be reported. Who needs philosophy and logic when you’ve got the police to do your thinking for you?)
But Adam Lee has an excellent defense of Buzzfeed, so I’ll just let him continue.
While Buzzfeed does publish its share of silly clickbait, their investigative unit employs 20 journalists and engages in serious, important reporting. One of their reporters was a Pulitzer finalist in 2017; another won a Pulitzer prior to being hired there. Ironically, BuzzFeed’s own Wikipedia page has categories for “Notable stories” (significantly, including the sexual-misconduct accusations against Kevin Spacey) and “Awards and recognition”.
As for the journalists who wrote the Krauss story, one of them, Peter Aldhous, has reported for the journals Nature and Science and teaches investigative and policy reporting at UC Santa Cruz. The other reporter, Azeen Gorayshi, has written for the Guardian, New Scientist, Newsweek, and Wired, among others. The editor, Virginia Hughes, has written for the Atlantic, the New York Times, National Geographic, and Slate.
If this doesn’t meet the definition of serious, noteworthy journalism, then no such thing exists. Clearly, the Guerrilla Skepticism group is employing their own biased and highly selective definition of “reliable source” in order to avoid mentioning stories that would cast their hero in an unfavorable light, even in a supposedly neutral and comprehensive encyclopedia article. (The State Press, a student-run newspaper at Arizona State University, has since published their own article about Krauss.)
Yeah, you actually have to read the news articles to assess them. I was also surprised, once upon a time — I thought Buzzfeed was synonymous with superficial clickbait. But then I discovered that they had really built up a substantial news group,
with people I knew who had excellent journalistic reputations, and they were really digging deep.
One of the things about Buzzfeed that may rub some people the wrong way is that they’ve run quite a few stories about the culture of sexual privilege and harassment in academia. It’s not so much that they’re a bad news organization as that they’re a very good news organization that isn’t afraid to challenge powerful, influential people.
You know, like we used to imagine journalists were supposed to do.
I should mention that Krauss does still have some other defenders. His scheduled speaking tour with Richard Dawkins in Australia and New Zealand is still on.
Oops. Spoke too soon.
Think Inc. wish to advise that Lawrence Krauss has stepped down from the Science In The Soul shows in Australia and New Zealand this May. The ‘Science In The Soul’ shows will continue with Richard Dawkins with a special guest co-host announcement forthcoming.
— Think Inc. (@thinkincAU) March 7, 2018
Might be worth applying this standard to the New York Times as well. Ideological bias, typical kinds of content, editorial staff and stance, etc are just some among many tools that discerning readers might use to judge a particular piece of journalism. I’m not saying you should subscribe to the NYT (the only subscription I have is a regular donation to my local indie news outfit Voice of San Diego), but there are quality journalists there too.
consciousness razor says
I bet PZ knows that. On the other hand, there was recently a link to a tweet from a third party, containing an image of an excerpt of a NYT book review, instead of linking to it directly or at least giving proper attribution. So that’s a bit worrying.
It’s a rather convoluted method, if you ask me, compared to simple copy-pasta of text. And it’s slightly annoying, since it requires loading an image rather than text, it means twitter and/or other random sites are talking to my computer for no particularly good reason, and as I said she wasn’t credited in the thread until that commenter came along…. I can’t think of anything to say in favor of it.
Unfortunate, as I’ve always liked this guy on various programs.
That said, times are changing, and this type of behavior, if accurate, should never [have been] be OK*.
The fact that a woman in the US could not even take out a loan for a car as late as the 1970’s, or other things currently taken for granted, unless cosigned by her parents or her husband, shows that the fair treatment of women is long overdue.
*By “OK” I mean that people should have had issue with this long before current events have lead to it being more of an issue… For some, they are OK with current POTUS, because they just do not care.
Well someone had to do it, the established ‘Serious Media’ wasn’t doing it, for the most part….
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Can I mention that I also like Buzzfeed’s silly clickbait entertainment?
They’re not pretending to do Serious Reporting with those articles and often they have some punching up humour to go with the cat pics.
If you could fit it into your schedule, PZ, maybe you could offer yourself to Richard for the Australian tour in the spirit of reconciliation between camps that I wish weren’t still in such conflict.
John Morales says
martin443, you mean reconciliation between the skeevy and non-skeevy sides?
(Your trolling is feeble — and the parable of The Scorpion and the Frog applies here)
I wasn’t trolling. You may disagree but your unnecessary misinterpretation of my genuine comment is maybe a symptom that maybe you should look into of problems with your own commenting policy. I’m more inclined to follow PZ more than Professor Dawkins but I don’t think there can’t be reconciliation. If you do then that is your opinion and maybe that’s rather a skeevy opinion.
chigau (違う) says
a troll is a troll is a troll
How quickly “Dear Muslima” is forgotten…
I’ve come to the conclusion that Wikipedia articles about persons who are currently important(*) and who are active in socially or politically sensitive ways are often unreliable. More often than not an article misses some small bit of information (current or the persons actions/relationships in the past) that show the not-so-angelic side of that person. After coming across some instances I generally don’t trust Wikipedia articles about socially/politically sensitive topics anymore.
Which sucks, because it once was quite reliable and more current than other ‘knowledge repositories’.
Apart from the obvious fans of that person, this subtle bias often seems to lean towards the socio-economically privileged, technology loving people. My guess is that people who are struggling don’t have the spoons to fight edit wars on Wikipedia.
(*) for a suitable value of “important”
And the blackballing of critics.
And the denial of the harm of child abuse.
And the ranking of various types of rape.
That’s off the top of my head, so I’m sure I’m forgetting something.