Here we go again, another exposé of Michael Shermer’s deplorable behavior. He’ll just shrug this one off, too, and no one will care and no one will abandon Shermer. But it does have some interesting points.
If you want to make Shermer cry, hit his pocketbook.
That evening, Shermer told me, he noticed his talk was poorly attended. At dinner afterward, his faculty host told him about Napoleon’s message. Upset, Shermer responded by sending a long email to the SBCC all-campus list in which he accused Napoleon of defamation, said that both Wallace and Napoleon had aimed “to personally harm me,” demanded that The Channels retract its “libelous article,” and told both the school and the student newspaper that they “will pay” for any book sales affected by the coverage unless they pulled the piece.
Carol Tavris disappoints, deeply.
Napoleon says that this was not her intention, and while she did hire a lawyer, she was unimpressed by the threats from Shermer and his legal team. “If they specialize in libel and defamation,” she told me, “they should know that me sharing public articles about you from 2014 is neither libel nor defamation.” Napoleon says she was also surprised to receive an email from Carol Tavris, a prominent psychologist and a writer for Shermer’s magazine, asking her, “in the spirit of feminism and fair play,” to consider that Shermer had been falsely accused, and to apologize for her email.
In the spirit of feminism and fair play, how dare you try to silence women who complain about Shermer’s sexism.
And surprise! Shermer claims not to be litigious, and to have never sued anyone!
“Shermer is notoriously litigious,” said PZ Myers, who received legal notice from Shermer after originally posting the allegations in 2013. “You know that as soon as you say something, he’s going to come down on you with his lawyers.” (In an email, Shermer responded to Myers’ claim by defining litigious as “prone to engage in lawsuits,” and adding: “I have never sued anyone.”)
Right. He just threatens people with lawsuits to bully them into silence. I wonder how many times he has done this and succeeded? Does it outnumber the times he has tried and failed, as he did with me? It’s also ironic that he’s making this claim in an article about the time he tried to threaten a school paper with a lawsuit.
Still, good to know for other people he blusters at: by his own admission, he has never followed through on his threats.
Also interesting that the faculty member who invited Shermer and angrily defended him was, at the time, already under Title IX investigation.
What everyone seems to agree on is that events quickly veered in unexpected directions, and the interaction set off campus-wide discussions at SBCC. Prolonging the controversy, the school recently chose not to rehire the professor who hosted Shermer on campus, Mark McIntire, an adjunct philosophy instructor who taught at SBCC for more than 20 years. The college, McIntire says, told him that he was not being rehired because of deficiencies in teaching. McIntire was also under a Title IX investigation at the time for personal emails he sent to female faculty members after the Shermer incident, which some women reported as threatening. Shermer and McIntire have characterized it as political retaliation.
Birds of a feather. Although McIntire was eventually cleared, sort of.
The Title IX investigation, which was completed in June, cleared McIntire of wrongdoing in his emails to faculty members, but did reprimand him for unethical behavior.
I wonder if he learned his ethical behavior from reading Shermer’s books?
The paper tiger, though, once again admits to his impotence.
Meanwhile, Shermer says he has racked up $3,000 in legal fees. “From where I sit now, I wouldn’t have done anything,” he said, expressing concern over McIntire’s situation.
I also have to sympathize with Raeanne Napoleon, the chair of the chemistry department at SBCC, who posted the letter that got Shermer so upset.
“I didn’t think twice about sending that email,” Napoleon said, adding that she now feels naïve. “I sent that email thinking this is the right thing to do. This is what you do. I watched the #MeToo movement happen!” Napoleon said. “I thought you spoke out against this stuff. I didn’t realize that speaking out would be so hard.”
Yeah, I spoke out. It’s been 5 years since, watching everyone let an accused rapist slide right on by, with no repercussions on his career at all.