Notes and Comment Blog


Why should I?

Oct 14th, 2013 5:30 pm | By

One of the reasons skepticism can’t get you there is the fact that it’s always possible to ask questions like, “Why should I care?”

There are answers to questions like that, but skepticism isn’t the source of the answers. Skepticism will just keep asking why we should care. Skepticism won’t necessarily accept the answers. There are no skepticism-defeating answers to questions like that. There’s no “proof” that humans should look after each other.

That’s why some of us are getting so fed up with skepticism. There are people who think it’s the universal tool, that it’s the right way to approach all questions, that if it’s still asking questions then somebody is pulling a fast one.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



One thought too many

Oct 14th, 2013 4:18 pm | By

Or, stupid thought for the day, or, your moral reasoning machine is broken.

Another tweet, less interesting than the one I quoted earlier today.

I rarely use it myself but I see a liberal use of the word cunt to be a healthy reaction to those who seek to ban the word.

Of course you do. Bullies always do think that. If your younger sister told you to stop pinching her, you pinched harder, because that’s a healthy reaction to those who seek to ban pinching. If that skinny kid in glasses complained when you punched her in the playground, you kicked her for good measure, because that’s a healthy reaction to those who seek to ban punching. If your mother told you to stop calling her a bitch, you called her a cunt for good measure, because that’s a healthy reaction to those who seek to ban sexist name-calling.

Actually I too think liberal use of the word cunt, in the right context by the right people, is a healthy reaction to people who use it as an epithet to degrade and belittle women or to insult men by comparing them to women’s genitalia. Kate Smurthwaite convinced me of that when I saw her perform in Dublin. But “liberal use” as an epithet by bullies is another matter.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Going?

Oct 14th, 2013 12:22 pm | By

Speaking of the CFI Summit, anybody here going to be there? It’s October 24-27, in Tacoma, Washington, which is about 40 miles south of Seattle, on Puget Sound like Seattle, with a much better view of Mount Rainier than Seattle.

It has the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.

The schedule for the conference.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



You can’t get there from here

Oct 14th, 2013 11:14 am | By

An aphoristic little tweet got my attention an hour or so ago -

Think like a skeptic, act like a humanist

That might seem like a good recipe, but it isn’t. You can’t act like an X unless you also think like an X. Thinking and acting don’t bifurcate that cleanly – how could they?

No, it’s more difficult than that. Life isn’t easy. You have to combine the two, in thought and action.

I think about this in general a lot, and in particular especially right now because I’m on a panel discussing the two at the CFI Summit weekend after next.

add

Plenary session: “Humanism and Skepticism: Separate or Joint Agendas?”

Panel discussion chaired by Ronald A. Lindsay. The Panel: Barry Kosmin, Ophelia Benson, Daniel Loxton, Mark Hatcher, Ray Hyman, and Michael De Dora.

I’m going to be saying joint, not separate. But there’s a certain kind of skepticism (or at least a kind of skeptic) that sees humanism as a betrayal of skepticism. I think the aphorism is a reflection of that. The idea is that humanism is credulous and/or dogmatic, and that’s why it should be banished from thinking, where only skepticism should rule. You know the drill – “feminism is a religion” blah blah blah.

I say it’s the other way around. It’s not that humanist (aka moral, liberal, egalitarian) thinking is corrupted, but that purely skeptical thinking is inadequate.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Biology Online fires Ofek, apologizes to Dr Lee

Oct 14th, 2013 9:11 am | By

A site admin lays it out on the Biology Online forum:

We would like to express our sincerest apologies to Danielle N. Lee (DNLee) and anyone else who may have been offended by the way our recently hired employee, Ofek, handled the conversation with her. Ofek’s behaviour was completely out of line and after gathering the facts we immediately terminated his employment. Ofek failed to show the respect and prudent behavior expected of him as a contributor to Biology Online.

From the moment that Biology Online started, it has always been a cordial avenue to exchange invaluable information and discussions among scientists, professionals, students, and biology savvy individuals from different parts of the world. Offensive and discriminatory behavior has always been discouraged. We intend to preserve this core function of the website. After an immediate and fair deliberation of the situation we decided to terminate the services of Ofek for his failure to represent and keep what we value in Biology Online.

We would also like to express our gratitude to the people who made us aware of the situation and to all loyal patrons of the website for your continued support. We assure you that Biology Online will continue providing its audience a congenial place for discussions and free biological information for everyone.

Biology Online Team

Should we feel sorry for Ofek? Not really. I’m more concerned about the many many people who are the objects of Ofek’s style of hipster misogynist contempt and dismissal. I think hipster misogynists need to start getting messages that hipster misogyny isn’t a marketable skill. Unfortunately, it is a marketable skill in way too many sectors, but that’s why we need more people saying, “Not here, it’s not.”

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Jocks will be jocks

Oct 13th, 2013 4:19 pm | By

Here we go again. High school football players. Important relatives. Small town. Party, alcohol, rape…and it’s the girl and her family who are punished.

The Kansas City Star details how the small town of Maryville turned against a newly-arrived family after 14-year-old Daisy Coleman reported that an older athlete had sex with her while another older male videotaped, after she was given an alcoholic drink at a party that left her barely able to stand. Her friend, a 13-year-old, was also made to have non-consensual sex.

After a thorough investigation by the local police however, clearly implicating 17-year-old Matthew Barnett in the sexual assault, charges were inexplicably dropped by the prosecuting attorney. Barnett, coincidentally, is the grandson of a prominent former Missouri state representative.

Coincidentally? Or very much to the pointly?

After the charges were dropped, things just got worse for Melinda and Daisy Coleman. Daisy has struggled with depression and attempted suicide. Melinda had to move away from Maryville and back to the town she had lived in with her now-deceased husband. In April, the house in Maryville she still owned burned down under mysterious circumstances.
And Matthew Barnett, the young man accused by Coleman of raping her? He’s attending the University of Central Missouri and apparently having a great time:

In a recent retweet, he expressed his views on women — and their desire for his sexual attentions — this way:

“If her name begins with A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z, she wants the D.”

Maybe we should just rename the whole damn country Steubenville.

Update: much useful background detail from April 2012. H/t Danny Sichel.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Rootle rootle

Oct 13th, 2013 2:55 pm | By

Wow. She’s still at it. Obsessive-compulsive blog-monitoring.

atit

Sara E. Mayhew @saramayhew

The copy/paste bloggers at #ftbullies are now block quoting block quotes. pic.twitter.com/WBvpbo0cIj

The picture is of a quoted passage on my post Hold that pose, now pout from the day before that tweet. I quoted John Holbo and included a bit that he quoted.

Yes, and? So what? Is Mayhew so sub-literate that she’s never encountered internal quoted passages before? It’s normal. It’s not some loopy thing that only I do because I’m one of the #ftbullies, it’s just a normal thing to do.

They go rooting around like Périgord pigs looking for truffles, digging through every post to find something to rage about. I must be very important!!

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



So many people put in their time, their passion

Oct 13th, 2013 2:37 pm | By

Government waste – bad thing, right? Well here’s some government waste for you.

More than 10 years of planning, $10 million of government funding and  tireless work from the team that discovered life in a lake buried beneath an  Antarctic glacier earlier this year may largely go to waste because of the  government shutdown.

Oh that kind of government waste…

The WISSARD drilling program — a collaborative effort of 14 principal  investigators including glaciologists, geophysicists, microbiologists and others  from nine institutions across the country — is one of the largest programs ever  fielded by the U.S. Antarctic Program.

The team consists of more than 50 scientists, graduate students and support  staff members, who aim to explore the underbelly of the West  Antarctic Ice Sheet— a flowing mass of ice about the size of France — in  order to study its dynamics and improve models that predict its melting rate. If  it were to melt completely, the ice sheet would increase average global sea  level by between 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters).

Oh, don’t worry, the market will take care of that.

the National Science Foundation announced this week that it would cancel  its entire U.S. Antarctic research program until the shutdown ends,  jeopardizing the entire second half of the WISSARD program.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Slawek Tulaczyk, a glaciologist at the University  of California, Santa Cruz, and a principal investigator with WISSARD. “So many  people put in their time, their passion into making sure that this happens. It  takes a lot of professional, dedicated work.”

Tulaczyk’s team has worked through many weekends over the past three months  preparing to ship scientific equipment — some of which they spent years  designing specifically for this year’s work — down to Antarctica to ensure that  it arrives in time for their field season.

Those shipments have now stopped en route, and likely won’t arrive in Antarctica by  mid-November as had been scheduled.

“If we can’t get stuff into the field on time, then there is no reason to see it forward,” Tulaczyk told LiveScience.

They can’t just do it later, because then they would get into the Antarctic winter, and that’s not safe.

Tulaczyk said this series of events may cause his graduate students to  question if science was the right investment for them to make with their lives. It’s not the loss of one field season that makes the difference, he said, but the years of preparation and coordination that may now go to waste.

But unless North Korea or Iran suddenly produces some scarily advanced piece of technology that could give them Immediate World Domination, the burn-it-all-down Republicans won’t give a fuck.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Scientific American responds

Oct 13th, 2013 12:32 pm | By

Mariette DiChristina offers a fuller explanation in a blog post.

Scientific American bloggers lie at the heart of the SA website, pumping vitality, experience and broad insight around the community. Unfortunately our poor communication with this valuable part of the SA network over the recent days has led to concerns, misunderstandings and ill feelings, and we are committed to working to try to put this right as best we can.

We know that there are real and important issues regarding the treatment of women in science and women of color in science, both historically and currently, and are dismayed at the far too frequent cases in which women face prejudice and suffer inappropriate treatment as they strive for equality and respect. We recently removed a blog post by Dr. Danielle Lee that alleged a personal experience of this nature. Dr. Lee’s post pertained to personal correspondence between her and an editor at Biology-Online about a possible assignment for that network. Unfortunately, we could not quickly verify the facts of the blog post and consequently for legal reasons we had to remove the post. Although we regret that this was necessary, a publisher must be able to protect its interests and Scientific American bloggers are informed that we may remove their blog posts at any time when they agree to blog for us. In removing the post, we were in no way commenting upon the substance of the post, but reflecting that the underlying facts were not confirmed.

Some people commenting on the article – with Chris Clarke being the first – are unconvinced by that. But the end seems like a good outcome.

We take very seriously the issues that are faced by women in science and women of color in science. As a woman who has worked in science publishing for more than 20 years, I can add that we intend to discuss how we can better investigate and publicize such problems in general and search for solutions with Dr. Lee and with the wider scientific community. With the help of Dr. Lee as an author, Scientific American plans to provide a thoroughly reported feature article about the current issues facing women in science and the related research in the coming weeks. I am personally grateful to Dr. Lee for her support in these endeavors and am looking forward to working with her on these issues.

Looking forward to that article.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Human douchebaggery spins upon multiple axes

Oct 13th, 2013 11:41 am | By

Ken White at Popehat takes a slightly different angle on the SciAm-Ofek-Danielle Lee train wreck. He agrees that it’s sexist but adds that it’s also marketerist.

Many bloggers have written about this as a clear example of how sexism is pervasive in the sciences.  After all, how else can you explain the interpersonal dysfunction of someone demanding free content from a female scientist and then calling her a whore when she refuses?

But I think sexism is, at least, an incomplete explanation.

I have no doubt that the scientific community is awash in ignorant and reflexive sexism.  I’ve heard too many stories from loved ones, classmates, and clients1 in the sciences to think otherwise.  But human douchebaggery spins upon multiple axes.  It may be that the most powerful axis in play here is not sexism, but marketing.

¹Represent a female cardiothoracic surgeon and listen to her stories and next time you go under the knife you may be tempted to check to see if the guy under the mask is Tucker Max.

Human douchebaggery does indeed spin upon multiple axes. That’s an important truth, and an elegant way of condensing it.

Anyway yes. There is also the whole “ask people to write for you for nothing and abuse them when they say no” angle and that is interesting on its own, even without the sexism.

Ofek is currently in the business of spamming bloggers to ask them to contribute free content to a sordid little advertising-heavy aggregator site in order to increase traffic and thereby increase advertising revenue to Ofek and Ofek’s team.  In other words, Ofek has ceased to be a scientist and begun a career as a marketeer.

And marketeers are entitled douchebags.  Within the context of online marketing, Ofek’s behavior is perfectly typical.  Ofek’s belief — that he is entitled to profit off of Ms. Lee’s work, and that she’s worthy of abuse if she objects — is the apotheosis of marketeer culture.

You can hear echoes of Ofek in the marketeer who called the Bloggess a “fucking bitch” when she snarked about receiving Kardashian spam.  You can hear it in the offense taken by the spammer who showed up in our comments, outraged that we called out his spam.  You can hear it in the attitude of comment spammers who suggest that if bloggers don’t want comment spam they shouldn’t have open comments.  You see it in the buffoonish look-how-successful-I-am rants of marketeers who defend their vocation.  You hear it in the rancor of marketeers who believe they own hashtags on Twitter and that anyone who uses them for criticism is a spammer.  You can hear it in the angry entitlement of the marketeer who threatens me with a lawsuit when I call out his deceitful methodology.

And science education? Not so much.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Urban bloggers

Oct 12th, 2013 6:13 pm | By

Update: this post is confusing if you haven’t read the one before it. The article is a good article; my commentary continues from the previous post.

Another article on DN Lee and Scientific American, Nobody Ever Called Einstein A ‘Whore’. (Yes, yes, frisson, blah blah collective outrage, yadda yadda impure motives. Noted, Jeremy, now go monitor someone else for a few years.)

Danielle Lee is another one of its well-known scientific writers. Lee, a biologist who studies animal behavior, mammals and the ways organisms interact with their environment, earned a doctoral degree in biology from the University of Missouri–St. Louis, was named Young Professional of the Year by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, and her urban science blog was named as a finalist for the 2011 Black Weblog Award in the best science and technology category. When not blogging, Lee works for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. By all accounts Lee is well-known and well-respected in scientific circles…

It’s good to have some background.

Then there was Ofek, then Mariette DiChristina removed Lee’s blog post…

That’s when things really got ugly. Besides the ethical considerations of journalists removing whole stories from websites without warning or fuller explanation, Scientific American apparently failed to take into consideration how readers would react, especially those who had already seen the post. Not only was the initial story picked up by the ever popular Buzz Feed, the website specializing in viral content, also implicated Scientific American’s complicity in the controversy. Scientists around the globe are now protesting the magazine, taking to Twitter and other social media platforms to demand that their content also be removed from the site, stating their refusal to now use Scientific American’s materials in the classroom, and are dropping subscriptions. And they are calling on colleagues to take similar actions.

Aka the frisson of collective outrage. How dare scientists around the globe protest! How dare they make Danielle Lee feel supported instead of isolated and dismissed? How dare they, I tell you! It’s much better to steer clear of all possible frissons and leave everything as it is, including random people calling women whores when they feel like it.

…the oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the United States should have known better, even more so (one would think) since its editor is a woman. If nothing else editors should explain its relationship with Biology-onlineand the editor who is accused of calling Lee out of her name. One would also think that editors at Scientific American would be empathetic about scientists getting riled when their work is not respected, but something tells me that Einstein never had to worry about being called a “whore,” let alone an urban one.

Uh oh. Is that a reference to privilege? It’s all over.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Don’t ever do anything, in case your motives are Impure

Oct 12th, 2013 5:27 pm | By

A silly thought.

Jeremy Stangroom @PhilosophyExp

Blimey, online warriors don’t half love the frisson of collective outrage. My advice is be deeply suspicious of it (and them).

I figure that’s about Ofek and DN Lee and Scientific American, if only because Stangroom monitors Freethought blogs and especially mine so closely. But then why would it be necessary to be deeply suspicious of outrage about it? Why is it wrong to be outraged about it?

Because of the putative love of the putative frisson, I suppose. But then he doesn’t know that, he’s just claiming it. And even if he’s right about it, or right in some cases, so what? What difference does it make? What difference does it make, especially, about the facts of the case? What’s his point? 

You know, there was probably a good deal of joy involved in the Civil Rights movement, along with a lot of terror and grief and despair. Is that a bad thing? Do we look back on that movement and shake our heads solemnly and think that everyone should have been more suspicious of it, because some people perhaps got some joy out of the Beloved Community? Should we think it was all irrational and out of control and undercut by terrible motivations because solidarity offers some rewards?

No. There’s every reason to look at particulars, and to create a solid, complicated, detailed history that shows the mistakes and self-interest and power-grabbing and whatever else was part of the movement, but there’s no reason to just scowl suspiciously at the whole thing in case there were some frissons of collective outrage along the way.

A year ago there was a lot of collective outrage when Malala was shot. And? Did that merit suspicion? Also a year ago there was a lot of collective outrage when Praveen Halappanavar went to the press with what had happened to his wife Savita at University Hospital, Galway. Did that merit suspicion? Should all those people who went to Kildare Street to protest outside the Dáil have stayed home and watched the telly instead? Was it all deeply suspect and horrible because they were outraged? Were they secretly ecstatic about the whole thing because it gave them an excuse to go out?

What bullshit. We get to evaluate outrage on the merits of the case, not whether or not anybody or everybody might have Unclean motives. And then what about Stangroom’s own frisson of personal outrage at Hated Bloggers? Eh? What about the frisson he gets from monitoring my blog and confirming again how evil I am?

Yeah.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



How not to ask for a favor

Oct 12th, 2013 4:47 pm | By

So how are things going for Scientific American? Not very well, from what I can see. There’s a lot of very strong criticism of their move in taking down Danielle N Lee’s blog post about the editor at Biology Online who called her a whore when she declined to write for Biology Online for free. Most of it is coming directly from working scientists. That can’t be what they want.

I still haven’t seen any explanation of their reasons for taking down the post; as far as I know there hasn’t been one.

They can’t take refuge in the claim that their blog isn’t the right place for personal quarrels, because this wasn’t personal. Ofek and Lee were strangers, and still are. They exchanged three emails apiece. The exchange was about writing for the blog Ofek edits. That’s not personal, it’s purely professional – or rather it was professional until Ofek called Lee a whore, and then it became unmotivated unprofessional abuse.

I used to have a job in which I asked people to write things for no money, come to think of it. I was deputy editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine for several years, and part of my job was doing just that. Sometimes people did reply asking if there was any pay involved, and it was my job to answer the question. I must say it never crossed my mind for an instant to abuse people if they declined on learning that the answer was no. (Mind you, I always worded it more carefully than Ofek did. I was faintly apologetic, I phrased it as inability as opposed to refusal, I expressed both hopes and complete understanding of a potential refusal. I definitely did not put it as “we’re doing you a favor” or anything resembling that. I put it as the invitee doing us a favor.)

Yeah. I used to have a job doing what Ofek did, and I would never in a million years have done it the way Ofek did. I can’t even figure out what could have motivated Ofek to do it that way.

Liz Ditz at I Speak of Dreams has a useful compilation of posts on the subject.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Leo Igwe urges boycott of homophobic Nigerian pastor

Oct 12th, 2013 3:07 pm | By

Leo Igwe writes:

I am writing to urge you to join as we protest the tour of the Pacific Region in November of the ‘General Overseer’ of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye. Pastor Adeboye is touring Canberra(November 10-11), Melbourne(12-13) New Zealand(14-15), Fiji(16-17),Solomon Islands (18-19), Papua New Guinea(20-21), Sydney(22-23), Perth(24-25).

The aim of the tour is to establish branches of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in these places. Pastor Adeboye is one of the pastors who openly used their sermons and preaching to rally public support for the anti same sex marriage bill which was recently passed by lawmakers in Nigeria.

Earlier this year he told a local Christian gathering that ‘Same sex marriage is anathema’ and an ‘evil’ that would lead to the end of human race. Due to the sermons of homophobic clerics like Pastor Adeboye, there is a growing trend of attacks and violence against homosexuals in Nigeria.
We should not allow this vicious trend to spread and take hold in other parts of the globe.
We need to use this opportunity to send a strong message to Pastor Adeboye and other gay bashing African clerics that their gospel of hatred and intolerance has no place in the Pacific Region and that their churches have no future in Australia, New Zealand etc.

Many African churches are trying to re –evangelize the world by promoting literal biblical  interpretations and christian messages that are incompatible with  universal human rights and other civilized values.

If we must beat back the tide of homophobia sweeping across Africa, we must protest the moves and plans by homophobic pastors and religious bigots to establish churches that incite violence and hatred against gay persons. Let us mobilize through the social media against the visit of this Nigerian pastor. Let us get human rights/humanist/secular groups in these places to stage protests and denounce the establishment of homophobic churches in the pacific region.

Leo Igwe,
Founder,
Nigerian Humanist Movement
October 11, 2013

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Scientific American has its reasons

Oct 12th, 2013 1:05 pm | By

But what are they?

Editor in chief and Senior VP Mariette DiChristina explained on Twitter

Re blog inquiry: @sciam is a publication for discovering science. The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed.

And got what is apparently an infinite number of replies – the page is still loading and I’ve been reading and scrolling for several minutes. The replies are stinging and clarifying.

A few:

Christie Wilcox @NerdyChristie

.@mdichristina Since when does @sciam censor blogs for lacking science content? No one took down my posts like this: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2012/11/12/musical-monday-stay-near-me/ ….

Maggie Koerth-Baker @maggiekb

Expectation of free work is big deal. Treatment of women who refuse paradigm, even more.

Seth Zenz @sethzenz

Science blogging is best w/ writers’ work/lives. You picked a very bad time to define it narrowly.

Janet D Stemwedel @docfreeride

Can you please clarify what “discovering science” means in context of @SciAmBlogs? cc @BoraZ

Martin Robbins @mjrobbins

This is a complete and utter screw up on your part. The sooner you guys get on top of it, the better.

Mariette DiChristina responded:

@hannahjwaters @sciam @BoraZ @DNLee5 “Partner” connection not a factor.

More infinite responses:

Ben Lillie @BenLillie

@mdichristina @hannahjwaters @boraz @dnlee5 Doesn’t matter. Pulling that post sends an incredibly bad message for diversity and support.

Chris Clarke @canlistrans

@mdichristina a staggeringly bad decision on scism’s part. Not too late to fix it. @hannahjwaters @sciam @BoraZ @DNLee5

The editor in chief says the reason was not the partner connection, but does not say what the reason was. Hm.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Sean Carroll is in

Oct 12th, 2013 12:36 pm | By

Ah, nice – Sean Carroll (the physics one) has a post on the how not to address a colleague who has the bad taste to be a woman issue, and Scientific American’s response to same.

Where I grew up, when people politely turn down your request for free stuff, it’s impolite to call them a “whore.” It’s especially bad when you take into account the fact that we live in a world where women are being pushed away from science, one where how often your papers get cited correlates strongly with your gender, and so on.

DNLee was a bit taken aback, with good reason. So she took to her blog to respond. It was a colorful, fun, finely-crafted retort — and also very important, because this is the kind of stuff that shouldn’t happen in this day and age. Especially because the offender isn’t just some kid with a website; Biology Online is a purportedly respectable site, part of the Scientific American “Partners Network.” One would hope that SciAm would demand an apology from Ofek, or consider cutting their ties with the organization.

Sadly that’s not what happened. If you click on the link in the previous paragraph, you’ll get an error. That’s because Scientific American, where DNLee’s blog is hosted, decided it wasn’t appropriate and took it down.

It’s true that this particular post was not primarily concerned with conveying substantive scientific content. Like, you know, countless other posts on the SciAm network, or most other blogs. But it wasn’t about gossip or what someone had for lunch, either; interactions between actual human beings engaged in the communication of scientific results actually is a crucial part of the science/culture/community ecosystem. DNLee’s post was written in a jocular style, but it wasn’t only on-topic, it was extremely important. Taking it down was exactly the wrong decision.

I have enormous respect for Scientific American as an institution, so I’m going to hope that this is a temporary mistake, and after contemplating a bit they decide to do the right thing, restoring DNLee’s post and censuring the guy who called her a whore. But meanwhile, I’m joining others by copying the original post here. Ultimately it’s going to get way more publicity than it would have otherwise. Maybe someday people will learn how the internet works.

Bat signal, bat signal.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Another hostile work environment

Oct 12th, 2013 12:22 pm | By

Good grief. Scientific American actually pulled DNLee’s post from their site yesterday. Wow.

I knew it was gone, because I clicked links to the SciAm post via three different tweets of DNLee’s and each one got a 404 – but I assumed it was a glitch, not a removal. Then DNLee tweeted the link to Isis’s post, and I put SciAm behind me. But now, also via Isis, via a comment at PZ’s, I learn that Scientific American deliberately took the post down and explained on Twitter why it doesn’t want it. Isis gives the details:

I was glad later in the day to see that DNLee had posted about her experience on her Scientific American blog.

Then I went to lab meeting, came back, and the post was gone. Vanished into the ether. Rumor circulated around Twitter that it had been pulled. I talked to DNLee and she very graciously provided me its content to post and was classy as fuck about what had gone down, refusing me any additional comment.

But she Googled, and discovered that Biology Online is part of the Scientific American Partners Network. So…protect the partners, is that the deal? Bad move, SciAm. Majorly fuck you type of move.

And, Isis found the smoking tweet.

sciam response

 And then Isis delivers a truly glorious telling off.

You see, science is about discovery, yes. But, more importantly, at its core science is about discovery with integrity. It’s about accepting data for what they are, even when they challenge our view of the world. It’s about reporting your conclusions, even when they are not popular and create conflict. Science is about chasing the truth and uncovering more of that truth with each new discovery. Not obscuring it.  I became a scientist because science is about honesty and curiosity and that little moment of excitement when you’re holding something brand new and you can’t wait to show it to the world.

I have a vision of what science should look like. When I close my eyes, I see a community where we are fascinated by the world around us. Our core value is, indeed, discovery, The more senior of us extend our hand to raise up those more junior than us.  We mentor them, care for them, love them, and protect them. We respect and value that our diversity makes us stronger. We empower those folks to feel like super heroes, because they are. They really, truly are. More so than any character, these folks have the power to shape our future for the better.

What you’ve taught me today is that you do not share my values. You may post glossy, sexy pictures of science, but you are not interested in discovery. You do not value truth, honesty and integrity – the core values that I hold most dear as a scientist.  Most importantly, you did not empower my friend.  You shut her down when she shared that she had not been respected. You put the dollar before the scientist.

I can’t read you anymore, Scientific American because there is truly nothing scientific about you.

What I can do, is to support my friend and fellow scientist and I can ask my fellow readers and scientists to join me in boycotting your publication.

Bad, bad move, Scientific American.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Guest post by DNLee: Tell Someone “No”, Get Called a “Whore”

Oct 11th, 2013 4:23 pm | By

We’re requested to repost this to amplify its signal, so I’m doing that. DNLee is asked to write for a blog, politely declines, and gets a less than polite response.

DNLee reports:

wachemshe hao hao kwangu mtapoa

I got this wrap cloth from Tanzania. It’s a khanga. It was the first khanga I purchased while I was in Africa for my nearly 3 month stay for field research last year. Everyone giggled when they saw me wear it and then gave a nod to suggest, “Well, okay”. I later learned that it translates to “Give trouble to others, but not me”. I laughed, thinking how appropriate it was. I was never a trouble-starter as a kid and I’m no fan of drama, but I always took this 21st century ghetto proverb most seriously:

Don’t start none. Won’t be none.

For those not familiar with inner city anthropology – it is simply a variation of the Golden Rule. Be nice and respectful to me and I will do the same. Everyone doesn’t live by the Golden Rule it seems. (Click to embiggen.)

The Blog editor of Biology-Online dot org asked me if I would like to blog for them. I asked the conditions. He explained. I said no. He then called me out of my name.

My initial reaction was not civil, I can assure you. I’m far from rah-rah, but the inner South Memphis in me was spoiling for a fight after this unprovoked insult. I felt like Hollywood Cole, pulling my A-line T-shirt off over my head, walking wide leg from corner to corner yelling, “Aww hell nawl!” In my gut I felt so passionately:”Ofek, don’t let me catch you on these streets, homie!”

This is my official response:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9kTZx1vq7c

It wasn’t just that he called me a whore – he juxtaposed it against my professional being: Are you urban scientist or an urban whore? Completely dismissing me as a scientist, a science communicator (whom he sought for my particular expertise), and someone who could offer something meaningful to his brand. What? Now, I’m so immoral and wrong to inquire about compensation? Plus, it was obvious me that I was supposed to be honored by the request..

After all, Dr. Important Person does it for free so what’s my problem? Listen, I ain’t him and he ain’t me. Folks have reasons – finances, time, energy, aligned missions, whatever – for doing or not doing things. Seriously, all anger aside…this rationalization of working for free and you’ll get exposure is wrong-headed.This is work. I am a professional. Professionals get paid. End of story. Even if I decide to do it pro bono (because I support your mission or I know you, whatevs) – it is still worth something. I’m simply choosing to waive that fee. But the fact is told ol’ boy No; and he got all up in his feelings. So, go sit on a soft internet cushion, Ofek, ’cause you are obviously all butt-hurt over my rejection. And take heed of the advice on my khanga.

You don’t want none of this

Thanks to everyone who helped me focus my righteous anger on these less-celebrated equines. I appreciate your support, words of encouragement, and offers to ride down on his *$$.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



A hostile learning environment for those of faith

Oct 11th, 2013 3:59 pm | By

Some Christian groups in Kansas are suing the state board of education over science teaching in schools.

There’s the Pacific Justice Institute for example. (Wha? The Pacific is nowhere near Kansas.)

Topeka, Kansas–Families across Kansas became one step closer, today, to protecting their children from forced atheistic teaching in their public school system. Pacific Justice Institute filed a complaint in Federal District Court challenging the State Board of Education’s (BOE) adoption of certain science standards which would create a hostile learning environment for those of faith. The standards being challenged are the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by the BOE June 11, 2013, and the corresponding Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas.

In addition to citing numerous areas of law that the standards violate, the complaint cites that the standards cause the state “to promote religious beliefs that are inconsistent with the theistic religious beliefs of plaintiffs, thereby depriving them of the right to be free from government that favors one religious view over another.”

I’m not a lawyer or a legal scholar, but that seems like a very contorted argument. “Favoring” science doesn’t become favoring a religious view just because some religious people decide to get bent out of shape about it. And if science would “create a hostile learning environment for those of faith” then that shows what’s wrong with faith, doesn’t it. It’s threatened by unfamiliar knowledge and it demands deference as a matter of survival. That’s way too high maintenance.

Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice Institute noted, “it’s an egregious violation of the rights of Americans to subject students—as young as five—to an authoritative figure such as a teacher who essentially tells them that their faith is wrong.” He continued, “it’s one thing to explore alternatives at an appropriate age, but to teach theory that is devoid of any alternative which aligns with the belief of people of faith is just wrong.”

No it isn’t. What if some students believed in magical agents who can cause major events while leaving no historical record? Would it be ”just wrong” to teach history without taking such agents into account?

Now that one is a rhetorical question.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



A change of mind

Oct 11th, 2013 3:19 pm | By

So there’s one bit of progress perhaps.

A judge has ruled that sisters aged 15 and 11 must have the MMR vaccine even though they and their mother do not want it, BBC Newsnight has learned.

The High Court decision, made last month, came after the girls’ father brought a case seeking vaccination.

The parents, now divorced, had jointly agreed not to vaccinate the girls in the wake of the MMR controversy.

But the discrediting of concerns about an MMR autism link and recent measles outbreaks changed the father’s view.

A step.

When outlining her decision in the latest case, Mrs Justice Theis emphasised it was a specific case “only concerned with the welfare needs of these children”, but lawyers say as one of a series it confirms there is no longer any debate
about the benefits of the vaccine.

Definitely a step.

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)