Lawrence Krauss responds to abuse charges


Since I posted (here and here) about the BuzzFeed article that relayed charges of predatory sexual behavior by Lawrence Krauss, I thought it only fair that I link to his detailed response. It is very long and I will let readers judge for themselves.

I became aware of Krauss’s response via Pharyngula where PZ Myers noted that Krauss had sought to portray the BuzzFeed article as not just an article about him but as also attacking the skeptic movement in general. I went back to that article to see if that bias was manifest. While the article does note that Krauss is mainly famous within the skeptic community and does describe the recent conflicts within the community, I did not think it did so unfairly.

Here are some passages:

Although not a household name, Lawrence Krauss is a big shot among skeptics, a community that rejects all forms of faith — from religion and the supernatural, to unproven alternative medicines, to testimonials based on memory and anecdote — in favor of hard evidence, reason, and science.

The skeptics draw heavily from traditionally male groups: scientists, philosophers, and libertarians, as well as geeky subcultures like gamers and sci-fi enthusiasts. The movement gained strength in the early 2000s, as the emerging blogosphere allowed like-minded “freethinkers” to connect and opened the community to more women like Hensley. It acquired a sharper political edge in the US culture wars, as skeptics, atheists, and scientists — including Krauss — joined forces to defend the teaching of evolution in public schools.

But today the movement is fracturing, with some of its most prominent members now attacking identity politics and “social justice warriors” in the name of free speech. Famous freethinkers have been criticized for anti-Muslim sentiment, for cheering the alt-right media personality Milo Yiannopoulos, and for lampooning feminism and gender theory. Several women, after sharing personal accounts of misogyny and harassment by men in the skeptic community, have been subjected to Gamergate-style online attacks, including rape and death threats. As a result, some commentators have accused parts of the movement of sliding into the alt-right.

Krauss has been heavily involved with the skeptic movement and many of the reported incidents took place at their events, so some linkage is unavoidable. But I did not get the impression that the author was trying to deliberately paint the skeptical movement negatively.

Comments

  1. Mark Dowd says

    Of course it was fair. For shitty people, reality is fake news and fairness is persecution.

  2. deepak shetty says

    The accusations of bias are red herrings. Everyone who thinks that women who share their experiences of harassment do not need to meet the legal standard of evidence before doing so are accused of bias or worse (SJWs! anti-skeptics! anti-atheists! clickbait seekers ! jealous of big names!). I believe Sam Harris even called one of the people referred to in the article “psychopath” but it isnt clear whether he is referring to Rebecca Watson or Melody Hensley or someone else – no such words are used for Lawrence Krauss though!

  3. mnb0 says

    “… skeptics, a community …”
    I’ve always been way to skeptical to want to be part of such a community/movement. Also I have an inbred distrust of big shots, specifically including the Four Horsemen who are seen by many so called skeptics as even bigger shots than Krauss.
    Basically I see at beforehand no reason to like unbelievers better than believers, no matter my own radical unbelief. It helps of course that being a Dutchman and a long time atheist all those Anglo-American big shots had exactly zero influence on my views. I started to call myself an atheist around 1985, almost 20 years before those big shots showed up and way too many unbelievers (including Dutch ones) started to kiss their feet.

  4. Just an Organic Regular Expression says

    Um, you might have seen Krauss’s PDF sooner, as I linked it in the second comment on your 3/7 post. But I am perturbed that you focus on this side-issue (of whether Krauss is trying to rally support in an false way), and do not even comment on the numerous and specific bullet points in which he alleges falsehoods and knowing distortions in the article. Certainly it is near-impossible for us distant bystanders to know the truth in a he-said/she-said slanging match. But in this case, what “he says” includes specific defenses based (apparently) in verifiable fact.

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