I changed my mind. No longer satisfactory.


Yesterday I said I was satisfied by Neil deGrasse Tyson’s response. Today, after reading a flood of comments and counter-arguments, I am convinced that there are many things wrong with it, from thinking that well-meaning explanations of intent after the fact are sufficient amends, to the weird handshake learned from a mysterious Native elder. All I can say is that when someone I have prior sympathy for says “Here’s why I didn’t mean to harm that person”, I should learn to cut through the excuses straight to the operative phrase, “I harmed that person“. OK, now what, Dr Tyson?

Also, an affirmation from someone with prior leanings in your favor is pretty much meaningless. He needs to listen far more to his critics, as do we all, and address their concerns. Most of all, he needs to respect the people he’s harmed, or their numbers will grow.

One last thing: I also looked at the comments of his other defenders. I was horrified to see how many of them are comparing Neil deGrasse Tyson to Brett Kavanaugh — I am not going to be one of them. I hope Dr Tyson is also appalled, and recognizes that this is a sign he’s going in the wrong direction.

Comments

  1. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    thank you for letting me ramble:

    I read the previous posting of Tyson as more explanation than apology. Apologies need to be more than explanation. My simplistic approach would be to first say, “I’m sorry I did that”, then, “This is what I was thinking at the time … “, and finally, “I know now that was wrong an will work to change my behavior… thank you for your tolerance”

    aside: one thing about apologies I read recently, is to keep it spun positively, by using the phrase “thank you” rather than “sorry”. It highlights the person accepting the apology instead of keeping the shadow on the one apologizing.
    Thank you for reading this explanation.

  2. says

    Idunno. The Pluto-gate and cheese-handshake incident are pretty innocuous. Not ideal, but in the realm of social mishaps I think could happen to “anyone” (or at least me). I have no problem crucifying predatory assholes, but I don’t see any real indications of that here.

    The rape allegations are much more troubling, but also the least substantial one. According to dGT it’s based on assumptions of a night she can’t remember, but I’d rather make my judgement based on less biased sources.

    As for the apology, it seems like almost every apology falls apart with enough scrutiny. What does that tell us? That most aren’t really sorry or that it’s hard to get even the most sincere apology right?

  3. chris61 says

    @3 Erlend Meyer

    That most aren’t really sorry or that it’s hard to get even the most sincere apology right?

    Or that there is no way to get an online apology right.

  4. mikehuben says

    I’ve yet to notice one example of an apology considered satisfactory here.

    How would the Pharyngula crowd (including me) ever move on to putting such a thing behind us with forgiveness or balance? Do harmful mistakes tar us for life?

    Perhaps the answer is simply that some will never forgive and carry the resentment forever, and others will move on. Maybe we simply have to choose which group to join, and recognize that it is a subjective moral choice.

  5. says

    Chris: Exactly. I don’t think I could write an apology that would hold up to online scrutiny, even if I believed the blame was entirely mine and I was mortified by my own actions.

  6. Jazzlet says

    Thank you PZ for having the humility to actually admit you were wrong in public.

    With regard to apologies online or otherwise, make it short, don’t try to explain your behaviour, just accept publically that you were wrong, and apologise to those you have hurt. A lot of the problem with the apologies we see is the attempt to explain away unacceptable behaviour, in essence to try and disassociate the behaviour from the person who ‘isn’t really like that’; an honest apology completely accepts that the person was wrong. None of us like to accept that we have an, at best, unpleasant side, but we all do and the only way to improve is to acknowledge that, because we can’t work on diminishing our nasty parts if we don’t admit they are part of us.

  7. says

    Jazzlet said most of what I’d say: Don’t justify your behavior in the apology, or it just becomes an excuse. State what you did wrong. Express your regret and promise to do better, then follow through on that promise. Also, don’t act like your apology obligates anyone else to say or do something as a result of it. And don’t wreck it afterwards by retroactively doing things you shouldn’t do in an apology (justifying, obligating, not following through).

    And for cryin’ out loud, don’t use the “if… then” non-apology that says nothing. “If you have somehow taken offense at something I maybe said, then I’m sorry you’re the sensitive sort who somehow took offense at something I maybe said.” Just don’t.

  8. beergoggles says

    It would be easier to understand the apology if he has ever given a male the special “thumbs out” handshake.
    I have a pretty extensive tattoo network on my body and people are occasionally curious enough about it to want to see more and it doesn’t arise to the level of impropriety, so I am having a hard time understanding that one.

  9. says

    #5: I think the root of your problem is thinking of the apology as something you trade for the right to be forgiven. You’re bargaining. You don’t have a time machine that allows you to go back and erase your mistake, so you have to live with your error forever.

  10. says

    @PZ #10: That’s a good point, but on the other hand this is a public apology, not a personal one. Once the public starts to make judgement I think it’s only fair that the accused get’s a chance to explain their side of the story.

    Also, there is a tendency for people to consider the offended completely and utterly blameless in the matter. And in the matter of assault I would totally agree.
    But the truth is that some people are incredible easy to offend. Some even get offended on behalf of others that themselves weren’t. With the dinner invite at least part of the offense happened inside the recipients head. I can’t say if it was justified or not, it is at least possible that dGTs invite was perfectly innocent and well within the confines of their established relationship.

  11. mikehuben says

    PZ: if we may exchange charges of roots of problems, I think the root of your problem is that you don’t have a clear basis for rehabilitation, only for denunciation.

    Of course we live with our pasts forever. But the purpose of apologies is the NOW: what other people (and we ourselves) think of us. That’s what forgiveness, moving on, etc. is about. And that only changes when we do something to rectify a grievance, such as apologizing. If that’s a problem because it is “bargaining”, then most human interactions are likewise flawed by bargaining.

    I’d like to know what you think the best possible outcome could be. Is it tarred for life because of the immutable past or is it reasonable that others can forgive or move on?

    You and other writers here have explored what the components of a proper apology would be. Is that still bargaining?

    And, as I pointed out before, no apology or bargain will satisfy everybody.

  12. says

    I don’t really believe in accepting or rejecting apologies on the basis of what particular words they chose for the apology. It’s nice when people are good with words, but people who are good with words are not more worthy of forgiveness. Forgiveness is more of a function of the original deed, and later actions.

    So, I think the important parts of the apology were: which aspects of the original deed he chose to dispute or not dispute, and his promise to cooperate with the investigation. The rest is worthy of critique, but not a significant factor in my judgment.

    Anyways, it’s not like I’m at the store looking at The Cosmos, and trying to decide whether I’m willing to support NdGT. There are literally no decisions in my life which hinge on this issue. My compassion for the women who stepped forward is not contingent on how it unfolds for NdGT. Everyone wants to make a judgment before this story moves beyond our short attention spans, but why? We can just wait for the investigations.

  13. says

    I guess I’m wondering what it was you meant by “satisfied” with the apology yesterday (and “not satisfied” today).

    I was “satisfied” with the apology because there’s an ongoing investigation, his statement says he’s going to cooperate with that investigation and, most importantly, I have no ongoing relationship with Tyson.

    While I could write in to his employers, what would I ask? For them to fire him without investigation? I don’t believe that’s appropriate at this point. For them to begin an investigation? They’ve already done that.

    So I’m “satisfied” with the current state of things because there’s no obvious action for me to take at this point. Did you mean something different yesterday?

    @mikehuben raises this question obliquely, stating that there’s never been an apology that was received as “satisfactory” here. But I stand by my statement yesterday that I find this satisfactory for now and in this specific context. It certainly matters what you think the purpose of an apology is. I’m not anyone Tyson has ever wronged. The apology isn’t to me in that sense. It’s not up to me to grant him forgiveness or grace or eternal salvation or whatever the fuck. It’s just up to me to decide whether I need to take action of some kind. Right now, I don’t feel any need to take further action. I’m glad there’s an investigation. I think that it should continue, but there’s no particular indicator that it’s corrupt or likely to halt prematurely.

    I think it’s a good starting place that Tyson was able to admit that he was wrong at least to some minor degree – without that, it might be that he wouldn’t be able to learn anything from whatever process plays out moving forward. On the other hand, lots of manipulative jerks know enough to pretend to be open to change. I can’t tell the difference between a genuine willingness to learn or not at this point. I’ve only seen the guy across a crowded lecture hall – I’ve never shaken his hand or been within a dozen yards of him, much less gotten to know him.

    So what can I or should I expect from his apology? He can’t (because of the poison inserted by past manipulative jerks into processes like these) convince me that he’s really open to change through a single statement. He can refrain from attacks, he can refrain from victim blaming and … that’s it. Everything else that he might do is Schroedinger’s statement because I really don’t know if he’s a manipulative jerk who is unwilling to ever change or if he’s willing to face reasonable accountability for what he’s actually done and its actual impacts on the people he’s wronged. (Which I understand included the loss of a job.) The statements of those people – absent a combative reaction by a true, unapologetic jerkface – have far too much overlap for me to make any judgement based on such statements alone.

    So I find the statement “satisfying” in the sense that I don’t feel a need to take further action right now. I don’t think it ends things or makes things all better, but then I wasn’t ever expecting such things from a public statement.

    So what is it that we want from such statements? What are our goals in reading such statements? I think that’s probably a useful and important discussion to have.

  14. thirdmill301 says

    I draw a distinction between conduct for which there is no reasonable justification — such as an actual physical assault — versus conduct that reasonable people could disagree about — such as looking at someone else’s tattoo in a way that some, but not all, people might find objectionable. In the case of the latter, it seems to me that explaining rather than apologizing might well be justified. Just because someone was subjectively offended does not mean that there was an objective reason for them to be offended.
    What I don’t know is how to strike a balance so that people who really have done bad things don’t have excuses to hide behind, while at the same time other people don’t get crucified over what may have been a misunderstanding.

  15. says

    @Crip #14: I agree, public apologies are intended for “us” rather than the victim. A discussion about what we expect from such statements could be useful.
    Personally I am also satisfied (for the time being). He explains his side, admits some wrongdoing, and welcomes a fair investigation. His comments about “vibrational energy woo” is a bit weird and could be seen as an attempt to discredit the opposition. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

    @thirdmill #15: I don’t think there is a surefire way to distinguish these two. It boils down to intent, and without looking inside peoples head we can’t really know for sure. But with so many predatory assholes out there I think we can afford to let some of the more innocent looking cases slide for now.

  16. angela78 says

    PZ: the good thing is that -for the first time since I read this blog- you admit actually changing opinion on something you wrote after someone discussed your position. This is good.
    The bad thing is, imho you did this in the wrong situation.
    I want serious, reliable accusations listened to. Women who actually had their life ruined by male assholes supported. Men who took advantage of their position to harass, hurt, humiliate women, I want them publicly exposed and made harmless.
    Here I saw lots of discussion on whether Tyson’s behaviour was nice or not, if his apologies are enough or not: all without supporting knowledge and evidence, putting on the same level a once-off hug and a drug-n-rape scenario.
    Meh…

  17. Saad says

    angela78,

    You do know you’re not posting here for the first time, right? People are familiar with your views on these topics. Concern troll elsewhere.

  18. mikehuben says

    Saad, angela78 has said what I was thinking as well here. Characterizing that message as “concern trolling”, no matter what previous messages were, tar brushes legitimate points.

    I also agree with a great deal of what Crip Dyke said in #14.

  19. consciousness razor says

    Erlend Meyer:

    His comments about “vibrational energy woo” is a bit weird and could be seen as an attempt to discredit the opposition. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

    People were supposing that was the point of those remarks in the other thread too. But it could also be about understanding Tchiya’s motivations. They were briefly in a relationship, which ended unremarkably. That might have been the end of the story. But then, a few decades later, she makes these allegations, and you might wonder why she would do that, if in fact they are false as Tyson claims. He became a very famous scientist, who was often focused on countering pseudoscience and other popular misconceptions. She dropped out of grad school and took a very different turn.

    So, perhaps it’s about resentment, their ideological differences, or something of that sort. That sounds fairly plausible to me, better than explanations like trying to get attention, fame, wealth, power, etc. In any case, it’s definitely part of the context that we can take into account, in a statement addressed to us (the public).

    Like several here have said, I don’t believe I’m in a position to accept or reject an apology from him. Regarding CD’s question at the end of #14, I want to understand his point of view when he writes a statement like that. Does it add anything to the picture that had been painted by the other party (or parties)? And if it is adding something, is that something which I think is probably true, important, relevant, etc.? It may not change my behavior much in cases like this, and of course I’m not involved in an investigation or in some other official capacity — I’ve got basically nothing to do. But since I’m on the sidelines and haven’t settled on a story to believe at this point, it’s part of a process of deciding on a story that I’ll find convincing. Then, once I’ve got something to work with, it might matter and I might act differently.

  20. says

    I’m still satisfied with NDT’s response until there is concrete reasons not to be satisfied.

    This is related to the problem with some people and the system of justice we have in this country. Not merely satisfied in punishment they want to see the person be punished for their rest of their lives then we get things like sex offender and violent offender registries and segregated living areas and so on.

    I will wait to see if anything comes from the investigation and then revisit my view at that time

  21. says

    @razor #20: I see your point, there are many possible interpretations.
    I’m not proud of it, but I instinctively question anything people like that say. Especially if it’s true that it stems from a “blackout period” in lack of a better term. After all, these people are prone to believe in BS like regression hypnosis…

    And that’s the only incident that really matters here. Maybe if he had looked down the woman’s backside for Uranus I could have understood some of the reactions, but let’s face it. People are imperfect, and everybody has different ideas of “personal space” and proper etiquette. If we are to hold a public hearing every time anyone slips up the slightest it’s going to get really ugly.

  22. The Mellow Monkey says

    …to the weird handshake learned from a mysterious Native elder.

    I wanted to expand on this a bit, because I found it pretty troubling as an explanation and in the larger context.

    If he did indeed put stock in a special spiritual handshake that he had learned from an unnamed Elder, then he should have:

    A) Not forced some sort of spiritual intimacy on someone by trying to do it without consent. If he truly, truly believed this created an “energy” connection it’s gross that he would try such a thing without informing the other person of what he was doing.

    B) Given credit to the person this (dubious) practice allegedly came from. You do not just vaguely refer to an Elder. You state that Elder’s name and their Nation, at the very least. If you can’t even name the Nation a practice comes from, quite frankly I don’t believe you. This is classic settler bullshit.

    And then in the larger context, he tried to discredit one of his accusers by referring to her woo, but his was fine? His was a good excuse to get weirdly touchy? I assume some of it is from the erroneous belief that Indigenous practices aren’t really religion and can just be casually appropriated, but it feels so calculated when used this way. There’s a meme on Twitter about how he corrects colloquialisms to unnecessary scientific accuracy, and I’m supposed to believe that this man does casual energy-work he picked up from an unnamed Nation?

    No.

  23. screechymonkey says

    mikehuben@12: “no apology or bargain will satisfy everybody”

    Let’s suppose that’s true. (The world contains billions of people with conflicting opinions, so that’s probably a safe assumption.) So what? Nobody was suggesting that this apology, or any apology in general, must satisfy “everybody.”

  24. mikehuben says

    #24 screechymonkey:

    The problem is not a matter of “must”. The problem is one of competition for “purity”: who will be the most offended and the least satisfied. Because they will tend to be louder than the satisfied, they affect our perceptions of norms. It’s a problem with conservatism since ancient times. And it also can be a problem of purity for any group that shares beliefs, including feminism (and I count myself in that group.)

    I want to know what the tradeoffs are for purity of belief: when to discount it. Normativitity is an important factor. That’s why I wouldn’t listen to “cut them off” any more than I’d listen to “lock her up.”

  25. consciousness razor says

    So what? Nobody was suggesting that this apology, or any apology in general, must satisfy “everybody.”

    You could ask the same question to yourself, me, PZ yesterday, PZ today, or anybody: so what? Does it matter whether or not that person is satisfied?**

    It’s not obvious that it does matter. But PZ presumably thinks he’s come to a better or more reasonable conclusion, which he’s shared with “everybody” — blogs don’t fill themselves, so why not? That is what you do when you communicate like this on the internet, rather than (I don’t know what) entertaining an idle thought while you’re in line at the grocery store. The evidence is examined to some extent, arguments and counter-arguments are considered, conclusions are expressed, etc., and with all that comes the suggestion that I (and everybody else) should be dissatisfied like him. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know what he is saying. But “so what?” would be an appropriate question.

    I mean, if he discussed evolution and gave a bunch of reasons why he’s convinced of this or that, doesn’t it sound like the rest of us should be convinced too, for the same or similar reasons? He wouldn’t have to say so explicitly, because it’s implicit when he doesn’t merely say “I think this, for no particular reason, and others may think something else, which doesn’t matter to me in the slightest. The end.” That kind of comes with the territory of being sincere, honest, clear, serious, etc., about a topic that you care about — you say things that you really believe, and you think others should be on roughly the same page, for the reasons you’ve given.

    ** Satisfied about what? If it isn’t an apology to me, as in this case, then what’s the deal?

  26. unclefrogy says

    Just because someone was subjectively offended does not mean that there was an objective reason for them to be offended.

    I for one make mistakes often, I have taken offense when none was meant.
    I was never taught formally how to do interpersonal relationships I had to learn on my own the hard way and figure it out by myself. There is a lot I do not understand. I am not the most trusting person and I have been rather quick to get defensive I hope I am still improving I try as I can.
    One thing I have learned to do is when there is a problem I can to talk it over with the person involved in person. That is often difficult to do especially when there are perceived faults and peoples feeling get heart.
    I do not know anything more about this particular “story” then what has been posted here. I can make up many details that have not been supplied to fill in the gaps but I will refrain from making “big decisions” . I will not let my experience my thinking,
    “what you know, you know and what you don’t know you don’t know”
    justin hinds
    uncle frogy

  27. unclefrogy says

    “influence” was left out above though that sentence is still pretty much impossible.
    uncle frogy

  28. bobphillips says

    The only people with a legitimate right to decide if an apology or compensation or other amends are sufficient for a transgession or violation are the victims or injured parties. I am willing to leave and support the final judgement to the women who were harmed. And, I think that the final discussion should be directly (and maybe privately) between NDGT and his accusers, if they agree. However, if there is a resolution satifactory to the women, then, because this has become public, that should be publicly stated. If they think he has said/done enough to satisfy them, then okay, it’s done. If they think he should do more, he should do more.

  29. mikehuben says

    bobphillips #29 writes:
    “The only people with a legitimate right to decide if an apology or compensation or other amends are sufficient for a transgession or violation are the victims or injured parties.”

    You realize, of course, that your claim runs counter to the entire system of public judgement according to law? We don’t allow victims to prescribe sentences because of the obvious moral hazard. Victims have a right to their own opinions, but judgements are public processes.

  30. liberalpersuasion says

    After reading Dr. Tyson’s explanation, I am satisfied. No apologies required from him.

  31. snuffcurry says

    The problem is one of competition for “purity”: who will be the most offended and the least satisfied.

    That’s not the problem, of course, but this is such a sociopathic thing to write in a thread about how to responsibility respond to accusations of harassment and rape. You know those rape victims and their advocates, just waiting to be offended, demanding completely ridiculous things like not adjacent victim-blaming. This is the identikit reactionary response to everything and everyone that transgresses the norm: if you’re vocal about disliking something, you must want to be angry and use any excuse to act so. If you have ethics, you’re oppressing me with your “purity” by describing them. If you judge me based on your own standards, you are intolerant. Listen, ducks: your lack of imagination and inability to accept that people who disagree with you have inner lives that don’t revolve around their Sacred Victimhood is your problem and yours alone.

    You people ought to say what you really mean. Use the epithets out loud. Sod the Atwater, Southern Strategy approach. The dogs are barking, so you can cut the charade.

  32. mmalmrose says

    My Partner bought me tickets to see Neil DeGrasse Tyson tonight in Hartford in advance (My background is that I have a PhD in astrophysics, but that I left academia because I didn’t want to get stuck being an adjunct forever). We were mad about what we learned in the last few days, but I think I wanted to see how he’d respond so we went anyway. He did take a few minutes at the beginning to acknowledge what has come to light the past few days, but he mostly read from his facebook post from earlier. I feel like he’s not Geoff Marcy, but that some really weird shit happened that he ought to have been aware was weird and the fact that he wasn’t bothers me.

  33. VolcanoMan says

    I’ve avoided stepping into this fray because I’m not actually sure what to think. But (and noting that I actually don’t like Tyson much, and find him a mediocre proponent of science and skepticism) I do tend to come down more towards PZ’s FIRST response to this – honestly, I am not sure what changed his mind since Tyson clearly stated that he was happy to be investigated…what more can he do but submit to such a process? Also, obviously the more recent incidents are the only ones that have any likelihood of producing concrete findings, and hopefully Tyson can learn something and tailor his future behavior accordingly so as not to cause harm (he seems willing, but who knows, right?).

    I am not sure what to make of Ms. Amet’s accusation though, and it has me reminiscing a bit about a former middle school principal of mine who was accused by a former student (a year after my high school graduation) of sexual interference (which was literally the criminal complaint, not just a way of describing it). The alleged abuse in this case had happened 4-5 years before any accusation was made.

    Now I don’t have any knowledge towards the truth of the boy/man’s accusation, though I had an inordinate number of one-on-one experiences with this principal, both in his normal role as my teacher (one year), and because I had a tendency for dramatic protestation of injustice in the form of overtly breaking rules, and he never once gave me the impression that he had any perverse attraction to young boys like myself. In point of fact, he was nice to everyone, but always observed people’s boundaries (not that this is a point in his defense…I’m just exposing my own biases).

    But his case made it to trial, and both sides presented their cases…it was he-said-he-said with no physical evidence at all, and during the trial the public (and the jury) learned that he had a close relationship with his accuser through his parents. Maybe he crossed the line and interfered with the boy. Maybe not. But the worst outcome happened…the jury couldn’t unanimously decide on his guilt, so they hung. Lacking a good faith basis for a conviction, the prosecutor did not re-file. Now I have heard of cases of teachers EXONERATED by courts of sexual assault (and related crimes) being unemployable in their chosen career after the not guilty finding…just in case (which to me is abhorrent). But a hung jury left him truly in limbo, since he couldn’t even point to a jury of his peers finding reasonable doubt that any crime occurred. So he moved on, changed careers, and that’s the last I heard of him (he became a baker).

    Accusations like the ones he faced have weight, even if there is no legal finding one way or the other (as will probably happen also in the Tyson-Amet affair). So what is the public to do? I have noticed white dudes like Michael Shermer, Louis C.K. (and possibly Lawrence Krauss) have a tendency to get away with a lot, and jump right back onto their horses, so to speak, but Tyson is black and that privilege is unavailable to him. With an unproven (and probably unprovable) rape accusation hanging over his head, how many of the organizations he works for and with are going to go to bat for him? He may have done it, I have no idea. Nobody does. But where is the line where you say “this person is just too risky to let do X, or to allow to function in Y role (especially in an age of liability and escalating insurance costs)?”

    Rapists tend to have misogynistic tendencies that let them rationalize their horrific acts, and those tendencies usually slip through in other places (I have not seen this with Dr. Tyson). Also, nobody else has accused him of rape (yet, and maybe this changes) – rapists, especially those that (seemingly) got away with it, often re-offend. Finally, I couldn’t care less about Ms. Amet’s weird beliefs about astrology, etc. They have no bearing on my opinions here. But I do care that she has also accused Dr. Tyson of “offering passing grades to his students* in exchange for oral sex.” This is the third time this rape allegation has been in the public eye (although now, by far the most people are paying attention), and the “oral sex for a good grade” accusation was made years and years ago. If true, he’s a despicable man who should suffer serious consequences, even now, 30 years later. But because of the publicity all of this is receiving, I would hope in an age of #metoo, where victim blaming and shaming are being countered with support and belief, these victims of his sexual extortion would have come forward. They may yet. But if that accusation proves to be most likely false (if people do come forward to say that it never happened, or if nobody comes forward to say anything at all)…I think that would lead me to put less faith in Ms. Amet’s version of events.

    All this is to say that the most troubling of Tyson’s alleged immoral behavior is by far the oldest allegation, which is also the one that is going to hang over his head FOREVER, whether he did it or not, since proving it happened is likely impossible (the other two cases aren’t good, of course, but if we don’t see that kind of behavior from Tyson in the future, if he is intensely proper – to the point of being even excessively careful – then I would hope the public censure he’s already received will be all the negative consequences he faces…the women are free to not forgive him, of course, but that should have no bearing on how society at large treats him). I am all for society believing women and for a presumption of innocence to be restricted to courtrooms, but what is society to do in cases like this? Whether he did it or not, he will endure the same consequences. If truly guilty, he deserves a lot worse, if truly innocent, he deserves none of the negative stain on his reputation. I don’t see how we can be fair to both Tyson and Amet, and have a satisfactory conclusion to this affair.

    *To be clear, Ms. Amet was NOT one of the students in question – her accusation states that they were both grad students at the time, and the alleged immoral and illegal behavior was towards Tyson’s undergraduate students in courses he was TAing.

  34. geodesic says

    Ms Amet’s accusation includes the line: “… WHEN SHE AWAKENS, UNABLE TO MOVE, YOU CONTINUE YOUR DEMONIC ACTS.” The specific demon this reminded me of is an incubus.

    As several other commenters have suggested, this sounds like sleep paralysis. Waking up unable to move, sensing someone else in the room, and feeling a pressure on your chest as if someone is on top of you are all well-established symptoms. I’ve had it myself a couple of times. Given Ms Amet’s various mystical views, maybe she interpreted this as something more sinister.

    Of course, this is just speculation based off one rambling blog post.

  35. mikehuben says

    @32 snuffcurry is a perfect example of the “purity” problem I was describing. I’m not as “pure” as snuffcurry, hence I must be “sociopathic” and have “lack of imagination and inability to accept that people who disagree with you have inner lives”. And I must have unspoken bigotries, too.

    It’s always amazing to me how these “pure” people have the psychic power to read minds like that.

  36. snuffcurry says

    You chose to make this about “purity,” using the jargon of the reactionary troubled that someone is expressing the wrong opinion, and “mind-reading” is pure projection. People can offer honest critiques without demanding that everything and everyone be free of imperfection and conform utterly to one’s own sensibilities, and that is what happened here. Incapable of accepting that or simply writing in bad faith, you assume your interlocutors can never be satisfied, can never compromise, and that their motives are authoritarian. Every accusation a confession, really.

  37. mikehuben says

    @38 snuffcurry writes: “Every accusation a confession, really.”

    He’s seemingly unaware that he’s projecting (confessing) his own problems on me through his accusations: “Incapable of accepting that or simply writing in bad faith, you assume your interlocutors can never be satisfied, can never compromise, and that their motives are authoritarian.”

    Enough of his sea lioning.

  38. says

    @mikehuben 25
    What do you mean by “purity”? Being offended is involved in the situation and some things are worth being offended by.

    mikehuben 30
    This isn’t just about, or even mostly about a courtroom and seriously, “entire system of public judgement according to law”? Can you be any more vague and black and white? The entire system? Reaally? Laughable, especially because courtrooms don’t typically trade in apologies. In the non-courtroon parts of the public victims do get a say in what count as good enough. Victims especially get to inform the rest of us about what the problem behavior is and what future behavior should look like, things any good apologie should address. Victims also get to inform us about what problems exist in existing apologies.

    This is especially important in parts of society where the courtroom has and continues to fail victims.

  39. mikehuben says

    @Brony 40
    I’m referring to onlookers, not victims: people like us. There is often a competition to be the most X by being the purest X as a fallacious attempt at more credibility. That often leads to denunciation of others who are less pure.

    I didn’t say it was “just about” a courtroom. I presented a courtroom as a counterexample, and a prominent, dominant one at that. Criminal or civil, the victims don’t get to prescribe the result: there is a public decision by disinterested parties of what compensation or other amends are sufficient for a transgression or violation. Yes, there is life outside of courtrooms too, and courts are not perfect: tell us something we didn’t know.

  40. says

    @mikehuben
    What is your example of denunciation?

    You still haven’t defined what you mean by purity. This matters because onlookers like us are involved in setting and changing social standards around things like boundary violations, apologies, rationalizations and useless court systems that don’t do their jobs.

    I flatly reject your counterexample of a courtroom for many reasons. One is that you simply assert it as a just-so without including the underlying reasons. Another is the non-courtroon aspects where victims do get a say in if an apology is good enough in the area of public opinion (onlookers get to pick sides and see if the victims have a good argument, your assertion of purity competition doesn’t even try to assess either side of such a conflict, lazy). Another is the broken nature of the criminal justice system here, citing it’s standards is no help to you when it fails victims again and again, it hasn’t any moral strength.

    I not only think victims should get a choice in what the consequences are or if apologies are good enough, I think that listening to victims is critical in understanding what changes should be made to the criminal justice system. I frankly don’t care about what is in the current criminal justice system since it’s a broken mess, and you don’t even take the time to point out specifics.

    At the very least your choice of courtroom lacks courage on your part as this isn’t one, the victims get to appeal to what the public thinks about all of this outside of the courtroom, and the comment you responded to in 30 was implicitly about the public. Fuck the courts and their corrupt process.

  41. mikehuben says

    Yes, there is life outside of courtrooms too, and courts are not perfect: tell us something we didn’t know.

  42. angela78 says

    @42 Brony

    Fuck the courts and their corrupt process.

    Fuck the people who can only complain about “The System”, proposing solutions that in the end sum up to “me I know what is Right!”.

  43. says

    @mikehuben
    Coward. You’ve totally ignored so much of what I wrote. Is it inconvenient to you? Which one is harder? The fact that the justice system is no moral authority here, or that you are ignoring the public aspects of the post you responded to?

    @angela78
    And yet you quote nothing about me knowing what is right, and ignore what I said about victims informing us about the problem when the courts have utterly failed them.

    Pathetic.

  44. mikehuben says

    Brony @45:
    angela78 @44 has your style pinpointed. Which is why you’re not worth addressing.

  45. says

    @mikehuben
    Yet you keep responding while not actually citing why I’m not worth “addressing”. Funny that.

    If you’re if a kind with angela78 in this it’s no wonder. I so clearly cited victims as authority on the matter while they claimed l knew what was right that angela78 can only be here for the basest pissing on fences. Oh well, I’m game for that too.

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