Free speech for Tim Hunt … but not his critics

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Tim Hunt apologists employ a classic tactic in dismissing gender discrimination.

Gee, who could have seen that coming?

Tim Hunt made offensive comments about women scientists in front of a group of women scientists. He apologized and he resigned.

Many men feel very bad about this.

No, not bad about the fact that Hunt felt free to humiliate women at a meeting designed to honor them. Be serious! They felt bad that any male scientist should be held to account for his not so subtle put down.

And they did just what white men have always done when confronted with their own gender bias. They pretended that Hunt was “misheard,” though there were literally hundreds of witnesses. They pretended that he was misunderstood; it was only a joke, even though such jokes ARE gender bias. They pretended that the woman who broke the story lied about it, and then, predictably, they combed through her life to discredit her by tearing it apart.

Obviously Hunt made offensive statements. He himself admitted it. Obviously, it makes no difference if it were a joke, since jokes at women’s expense are evidence of gender bias. And destroying the reputation of the woman who broke the story, while satisfying to Hunt apologists, and designed to send a warning to other women who might report on similar offensive behavior, doesn’t change the fact that St. Louis reported the truth.

There are a few apologists that are willing to acknowledge the obvious, but then minimize its significance. Jonathan Dimbleby, a broadcaster and writer has resigned his honorary appointment at University College of London, in solidarity with Tim Hunt.

According to Dimbleby:

This is not an offence that should be enough to ensure a distinguished scientist should be told to resign his position.

Woah! What’s next? Donating the proceeds from sale of his unicorn? Nothing like demonstrating your support (resigning an honorary post) in a way that changes nothing and costs you nothing.

At least Dimbleby acknowledges that Hunt’s behavior was indeed offensive.

He explained:

The college has a long and honourable tradition of defending free speech however objectionable it may be. Sir Tim made a very poor joke and it quite rightly backfired. He then apologised for that.

Why do men like Dimbleby have such trouble understanding a concept as basic as free speech? Free speech means that you are free from government control of your speech. It does NOT mean that are free from consequences of your speech.

The government of the UK did not prevent Tim Hunt from speaking his mind. That doesn’t mean that the University College of London isn’t equally free to condemn him for what he said. Curiously, Hunt’s apologists don’t seem to think that their expansive definition of “free speech” applies to Connie St. Louis. Many have gleefully torn her reputation to shreds when there is no evidence of that her reporting of Hunt’s behavior was anything other than truthful.

Dimbleby goes on to say:

The idea that serious grown-up women thinking of pursuing a science career, and thinking of going to UCL to do so, would be put off by an elderly professor saying something silly then apologising for it seems bizarre.

You don’t say, Dimbleby. When was the last time someone made a joke at your expense about your gender, race, or religion? I’m betting never, so you lack the authority and experience to opine what a target of Hunt’s bias would or would not feel about it.

Moreover … and let me see if I can spell it in terms Hunt’s apologists can understand … the issue is not the joke. The issue is the gender bias behind the joke. Someone who feels free to make women the butt of his jokes at a conference designed to honor women may be so clueless about his own gender bias that he feels equally free to display and act on it in his treatment of his female graduate students.

Tim Hunt was entirely free to make offensive remarks to women. Connie St. Louis was entirely free to report his remarks. UCL was entirely free to condemn him for it.

The fact that apologists think there should be no consequences for Hunt’s speech, but condemnation and worse for those who were offended by it is a classic tactic in dismissing gender bias, and it is unacceptable.

  • Linden

    No, a bit of a twit, just like you.

    • Who?

      Oh now poor Prof Hunt, not only is he being defended by these contemptible morons, you’re equating them with him!

      I do think that’s harsh. Prof Hunt is clearly a smart guy who isn’t that great at personal relations.

      MR and his buddies-if that’s what they are-are vicious morons.

      Let’s not get carried away here.

  • Linden

    I thought your wife had already left you. Please don’t take this as encouragement to whittle on about your domestic status, because no one cares. Just, your inconsistency is showing.

    • Miracle River

      4th wife actually. They all get a tad boring after a while.

  • Fallow

    You’re a child, right? I mean, you’ve got to be 15 at the absolute oldest. Just judging by your high level of arrogance, and low level of discourse.

    • Miracle River

      “You’re a child, right?”

      er… this is the kiddies discussion group? Yes? Or have I come to the wrong place?

      You know,…. “wwwaaaaaaaa, the nwasty man said something mwean to moi”

      • Fallow

        You overestimate your impact on others. You’re throwing a truly bewildering tantrum. That’s all. You’re just a particularly asinine specimen, of a grimly pitiable type of person.

        Here’s a fact about the kind of person that you aspire to be, with your trolling: No one outside your sphere has any respect for your kind, at all. Everyone else can see you for what you are.

        Even within your insular sphere, it’s hard to imagine you’re well-accepted. You seem like a try-hard, honestly. The person that others put up with out of necessity, but smirk about behind their backs. You associate with a nasty crowd, so rest assured you won’t maintain their acceptance forever.

        On top of that, I can only suspect that you really ARE masturbating to your fantasy that you’ve rustled up a henhouse. I don’t know what to say about that. Try not to chafe your dick off, I guess?

        • Who?

          This kind of troll is definitely different from others, who have an actual world view not just a series of slogans. Far less interesting. Most anti-vaxxers have a position that, at some level, is internally coherent. Which is why engaging with them, and pointing out the factual errors they rely on, is so important. Not that many of them will change their minds, but a fence-sitter, reading both, just might.

          These guys just fear women. That’s their entire vaule and belief system. And they aren’t even game to say it.

        • Miracle River

          Talk dirty to me baby!!! Talk dirty!!!

      • Nick Sanders

        You’ve never heard a childish lisp in your entire life, have you?

        • Who?

          He’s probably heard, but never listened. His reading and listening comprehension are probably similarly challenged. Mocking kids. Most attractive trait.

          Lovely fella.

        • Miracle River

          I can’t believe you are actually surfing comment threads to post your puke.

          What a creep you are.

          • Nick Sanders

            You may not have noticed, but there is a little sidebar on this blog that shows the most recent comments from across the site, regardless of which article they are on.

            It is invaluable for finding people to laugh at.

          • Who?

            Oh now Nick don’t go talking sense to MR, his poor little brain isn’t up to it.

            And you’ll scare him, he has a fear of being stalked.

            You’ll know you’ve got under his skin when he starts taking a few words of yours and pretending they support his assertions.

            You’ll know when you’ve really got to him when he doesn’t respond at all.

            It’s a rare thing for my troll bingo card to fill up within 24 hours, though it’s hard to feel too excited when the mark is soooo easy.

          • Miracle River

            Ah… a sidebar for creeps. I didn’t notice. Thanks.

        • Who?

          Oh Nick you’ve hurt MR’s feelings. He doesn’t recognise you as a local. Though if he thinks you’re a creep you’re probably a good guy.

  • lakegirl2

    Thank fucking goodness. You won’t reply to me then? Excellent. MR is such a loser! What a moron. Seriously, how can someone be so proud of beings so stupid. I guess ignorance is bliss but then you’d think he’d be happier about life in general.

    • Miracle River

      > You won’t reply to me then?

      Just kiddin’!! I’m back.

      Please select from one of the following insults:

      1. Don’t feel bad, don’t feel blue, Frankenstein was ugly too!

      2. Poof be gone, your breath is too strong, I don’t wanna be mean, but you need listerine, not a sip, not a swallow, but the whole friggin’ bottle.

      3. Dimes are silver, pennies are brass, why does your face, look like your ass?

      • lakegirl2

        Liar, liar, pants on fire, hang from your neck on a telephone wire.

        Also, you’re a fucking moron. Ciao, loser. I don’t want to keep you from felating Sir Tim. Can you moan “Nobel prize” while you suck his dick?

        • Who?

          It’s actually way worse than that, he’s masturbating as he reads, which I know looks like multi tasking but since his reading comprehension is poor and his needs are quickly met, it’s no great challenge.

          Talking to him is like feeding pigeons, momentarily entertaining but it just attracts a lot of noise and mess.

          Watch him sooo cleverly pull out a few words and toss them back now.

          These trolls are so much less satisfying than the anti-vax and pro-guns at all costs ones, who at least have some structure to their beliefs. These guys are just all hate and fear, all the time.

          Entirely pathetic.

          • lakegirl2

            My comment was removed. I think MR must have cried to an admin. Boohoo.

          • Who?

            Oh poor little man. I did wonder what happened to it. I popped back to see if he’d graced us with his attendance again, but apparently not.

            Stalked and picked on! You do realise we have reinforced his negative stereotypes about women.

          • lakegirl2

            Yay! Mission accomplished!

          • Who?

            Don’t feel too good about it, the real challenge would be if he exhibited adult human traits, we’re not going to see that anytime soon.

  • Who?

    No, twit works. You’re very emotional, have you had a poo and your drugs this morning?

    Since you’re identifying me with your mother now, I thought I’d ask.

    • Miracle River

      Hey! Now you are butting-in on my intellectual discourse with “linden”.

      I mean my replies to her won’t even be showing in your INBOX, so you must be searching my posts out manually.

      You’re starting to get creepy….

      • Who?

        And here’s the stalking allegation!!! Our bingo cards are almost full, thanks for that.

        There is so much going on here you just don’t get…

        Of course I couldn’t be reading the whole thing to see what’s what, and what the interesting people are saying.

        If you were paying attention you’d see I’m not logged in, so I don’t get any emails.

        • Miracle River

          “…and what the interesting people are saying.”

          Oh. So that’s why you’re looking out for my posts. Understandable 😉

  • Taysha

    and what would Mr. Dimbledy think of two male professors who, when a female colleague points out the error in their data, appropriate the knowledge, proceed to ignore her and make plans to resubmit now that “they” have figured out the problem?

    I’d like to know, because it pissed me off royally when they did that to me.

  • Amazed

    http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=1728

    An amazingly short memory for such an esteemed scientist.

    Or perhaps it’s simply that the cases discussed were not worth memorizing and taken into account because the fact that Sir Tim Hunt couldn’t keep it in his pants while at his lab (that’s how he met his wife, after all!) is something that should weigh in than harrassment of women scientists. After all, women should know their place and take everything that witty and honest Sir Tim throws at them.

    I find it hard to sympathize with him and his wife “bursting out in tears” over the news after he mocked women in science as huge bags of tears. Who cannot take critisism without crying again, Sir Tim?

  • ApostateltsopA

    I don’t get it. Why is this still news? Who are these regressive folks still trying to defend Hunt and do they realize they are on the same side, of the social changes in our societies, as those regressive fools in the southern US waving Confederate battle flags?

    Seriously folks, reality is leaving you behind, fighting it only pushes you further from the now.

    • JennyS
      • Who?

        It’s over. He has left the buildings.

        You’ll need to find a way to learn to live with it.

      • Linden

        Due process! Like in a court of law, where Sir Tim Hunt is languishing this minute?
        Or do I need due process when my toddler tries to bite the radiator and I move him away from it?
        Perhaps I need due process if my niece is calling someone names, and I tell her not to?

        • JennyS

          Due process is like a grown up science thing.

          • lakegirl2

            No. Due process is like a legal thing that has a definition. Sir Tim resigned from an honourary position at UCL. His livelihood isn’t impacted, he still has his Nobel Prize and he resigned BEFORE the college could fully investigate the incident. So, if anyone truncated the “due process” of an investigation, it was Sir Tim.
            Maybe he thought if he resigned, it would all go away and people would stop talking about it. Silly Sir Tim.

      • ApostateltsopA

        I read your link it is long on hyperbole and short of any valid argument. Comparing Hunt’s honary position to my job is just the first catagory error. They get worse like decrying the lack of “scientific process ” in his resignation.

        Please explain to me exactly what behavior constitutes a “witch hunt”. I’m not seeing one.

        When all your arguments are logical fallacies you are on the wrong side.

  • Angharad

    OT – My two-day-old nephew was admitted to the NICU today with an infection. Any positive thoughts/prayers/good vibrations/whatever you do would be appreciated.

    • Mishimoo

      Poor bubba and poor parents! Hope he gets better really soon!!

    • Amazed

      Good luck to the little one!

    • Cobalt

      That’s scary. I hope all goes well.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Prayers said for kiddo and family! Keep us updated if you can. Wishing you all the best.

      • Angharad

        The baby is doing much better now. He’s out of the NICU and under observation in the nursery and should be heading home by tomorrow if he continues to do well.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Hurray! I’m so glad to hear it. 🙂

        • Montserrat Blanco

          I am really glad to hear he is doing well. I hope it all goes well. Please keep us posted.

        • Who?

          Terrific good news, hope the little one keeps going in the right direction.

        • Angharad

          And the baby is home! It was a lovely one-week birthday present. 🙂
          Fortunately he was able to receive competent care and he doesn’t seem to be any worse for wear (although I guess his virgin gut has been destroyed by all the antibiotics. Oh well.)

    • Angharad

      Thanks. The doctors aren’t sure what exactly the infection is but he’s on antibiotics and it’s a very good hospital. I’m afraid it’s going to turn my sister-in-law off of hospital birth. She was afraid that the baby would pick up an infection, but my brother and I convinced her that the hospital is the safest place if anything goes wrong. I really hope this experience doesn’t convince her that home is safer. 🙁

      • lakegirl2

        Really? You think this is the time to further gas-light your sister-in-law?

        • Angharad

          Who said anything about gas-lighting? I don’t think she’s crazy, nobody has said anything to make her believe we think she’s crazy or that she is crazy. I know she had some concerns about giving birth in a hospital, and I hope that this experience doesn’t push her to make more dangerous decisions in the future. However, I was talking to her yesterday and was actually very encouraged because she was talking about how good it was that the baby was born somewhere where the subtle signs of infection were noticed and the little guy was able to get good care right away.

  • Miracle River

    Tim Hunt was asked to give a few words at a lunch for female journalist and scientists — he was there supporting women. He has a long history of being very supportive to women in science, and numerous women have come forward to confirm that. He is married to a women scientist.

    So he said something that has been interpreted as NOT matching his real-life actions. So folks ignore his real-life actions and just go with his words in this one instance.

    Imagine that a male scientist said that they supported women in science, but was known for being sexist in the workplace and gave zero encouragement to women. Would you ignore his real-life behaviour and just go with his words?

    • Who?

      Ultimately the ‘person’ he really got under the skin of was his employer. Many people whose indiscretions are far more egregious than his keep their jobs. For whatever reason, he didn’t. Is that fair? Certainly not. Is it real life? Certainly is.

      And how on earth does a man being married to a woman-or having daughters for that matter-have anything whatsoever to do with his attitude to women in the workplace?

      There seems to be a conflation of the response on social media and the response of his employer. Many assume the two are inevitably related, I tend to think the one was the convenient excuse for the other.

      Which is my long way of saying picket the employer if you think they were feeble, not people expressing their opinion on social media.

      • SporkParade

        Exactly. By saying that he prefers not to work with women, and then doubling down on that, he damaged the ability of his employer to attract female employees AND exposed his employer to legal liability because now they are more likely to be sued for discriminatory hiring practices by any woman who interviewed with but was not hired by Tim Hunt.

        • Who?

          And he breached a clause likely to be in his employment contract, which will be a more elegant version of ‘don’t behave in a way that will make us look bad while you’re on our air’. Which he was at that event.

        • Miracle River

          “By saying that he prefers not to work with women”

          Even though of course he has spent his life working with women, is married to a female scientist and was addressing a conference of women is science.

          DOH!

          • Who?

            What on earth does who he is married to have to do with anything?

            Would it have been more or less appropriate to say the same thing to a room full of male scientists?

            So he has a lot of experience working with women, that is likely to make his remarks more heartfelt, I would have thought.

            It may be he was let go for having a tin ear.

          • Miracle River

            “Would it have been more or less appropriate to say the same thing to a room full of male scientists?”

            “Scientists” male or female have no problem with what he said. That’s why they chuckled a bit in the room when he said it, and the “jokes” were just forgotten before they moved onto the serious stuff.

            You are confusing your silly self with a “scientist”.

          • Who?

            Sucks to be all of them then, since his employer did mind.

            And I’ll bet most of them are men.

          • just me

            What makes you think no one here is a scientist?

          • Miracle River

            Oh, I don’t know. The total lack of reason and accountability perhaps?

          • just me

            Well, I can at least tell that YOU’RE not a scientist, based on your obvious lack of analytical reasoning skills. Also, not an attorney since you are unable to form a cogent argument.

          • Miracle River

            Exactly. I’m a comedian – which is all that is needed here 🙂

          • just me

            Evidently not a very successful one.

            Let me guess–you were a middle of the road student, either bc you were just not born that smart or you didn’t put forth much effort (too busy playing video games). You didn’t get into your college of choice (or any college) and you blame this on a woman taking “your” place (rather than on your lack of intellect or effort). You now work in a video game store (while considering yourself a comedian) and you harbor a deep resentment against women for taking men’s slots in the world.

          • Linden

            ‘You are confusing your silly self with a “scientist”‘
            You’re new here, I take it? Not aware of the calibre of commenters we usually get, barring the occasional troll?

            ps: I’m not a scientist myself. I’m a senior RFIC design engineer. RFIC stands for Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits. Needless to say, it required some grounding in maths, physics and chemistry.

          • Miracle River

            “Not aware of the calibre of commenters we usually get…?”

            Here’s a comment of “calibre” from a real scientist:

            “Tim Hunt does not deserve the vilification he is receiving in the press, exemplified by Helen Cahill’s article (The unseen women scientists behind Tim Hunt’s Nobel prize, 12 June, theguardian.com). I did my undergraduate research project in Tim’s lab in the 1980s. He then encouraged me to stay on and continue that research in the lab over the summer, and found relevant funding. He further arranged for me to visit a lab in East Berlin that was working on what appeared to be a similar enzyme.

            Tim is one of the most enthusiastic people in science and backs up his enthusiasm with concrete advice and support. He has continued to advise on my career in science editing whenever I have asked for help.”
            Joan Marsh
            London

            http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/16/reversing-the-bandwagon-that-ran-over-tim-hunt

          • linden

            Of course, nobody has ever felt obliged to defend a friend or colleague who’s been a bit of a twit, through affection or through some amount of professional or social coersion.

            Hey, MR, perhaps one could even find someone to speak a few nice words about you! Don’t waste them, though. Keep them for your next wedding, or perhaps your funeral service.

          • SporkParade

            Please explain how advocating for gender-segregation in science labs is not a clear indication that he’d rather not work with women if he can avoid it.

          • Miracle River

            Good point!

            UCL has research collaboration, postgraduate student placements and staff exchanges with King Abdulaziz University in Saudia Arabia — and that has “gender-segregated” CAMPUSES, never mind about just gender-segregated labs. And they’re not joking!!

            But you not going to criticise that are you because of “cultural imperialism” and “multiculturalism”. And those potato sacks that the women are forced to wear are just so liberating eh?

            https://www.ucl.ac.uk/global/partnerships-collaborations/agreements

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Abdulaziz_University

          • SporkParade

            …he said to the Israeli.

          • Miracle River

            Shalom!

      • SuperGDZ

        He didn’t lose his job. It was a purely honorary title. He lost no income. The nature of an honorary title is an association of “brands”, if you like, between an educational institution and particular person. UCL no longer wanted to associate their “brand” with Tim Hunt.

        UCL’s actions seem cavalier because most people assume that he lost his paid employment. This is not the case. All he lost was some status.

        • SuperGDZ

          Also, for the sake of clarity, losing his honorary UCL title in no way interferes with his day to day work.

        • SuperGDZ
        • Miracle River

          I feel ready bad for all those “strong” girls studying at college; who were going to go into the science field, but are now terrified at the monsters they will find there.

          So they are taking-up flower pressing instead eh?

          Not the sort of girls I know; they didn’t give a toss about what he said.

          • Who?

            This was never about the women coming up, though it does send them a nice message about how people who think like that might be treated. Unfortunately it paints an unrealistic picture, since if science is like every other profession, brilliant arseholes will be protected.

            Think what happens though when some woman who was in front of a panel he was in wasn’t selected for a role, decides to sue? The UK isn’t as litigious as the US, but letting him go after those remarks could be seen as sensible, if belated, risk mitigation.

          • Miracle River

            Ah yes. All those women who came forward who had worked with him over the years and had nothing but the highest praise for him, must have been “hysterical” and “fantasising”. You see their little female heads must have got so confused, that they thought they work working in a science lab with a Nobel prizing winning scientist — but actually they were at home knitting socks, as that’s all their poor little female brains could come with.

          • Who?

            Not at all. For whatever reason, his employer didn’t care about that. Go pester them for a bit, it will give you useful trolling experience.

          • Miracle River

            Don’t worry. I accept your point that women are soft, delicate, fragile little creatures.

          • just me

            You can’t seem to accept that having a Nobel prize doesn’t mean you’re not an asshole. I wouldn’t want to work with someone just bc they had a Nobel prize if they were an asshole. I don’t like working with assholes.

          • Miracle River

            “I wouldn’t want to work with someone just bc they had a Nobel prize if they were an asshole…”

            Maybe not. But if you had breast cancer and he had found a cure for that, you’d sure as hell take the pills. Same thing.

          • Linden

            He’s not found a cure for breast cancer.
            Tell you what, you can use *all* the medical cures that were solely down to one man in a lab.
            I’ll take the ones that are researched,developed and peer-reviewed by hardworking men and women, administered by a healthcare system that depends on people of all genders, races and creeds.
            I’ll be generous. You can have acupuncture and homeopathy. I won’t need those.

          • Miracle River

            “He’s not found a cure for breast cancer.”

            I didn’t say he did.

            I asked a hypothetical question to get to the root of the commentators thinking. It’s what Einstein called a “thought experiment”.

            Science. Eat it.

          • Linden

            So you’re happy with my division of medical cures?
            You get everything solely developed and administered by one man in his lab.
            I get everything else.
            How would that work out for you? ‘Cos I’m really happy with my hypothetical, thought-experiment self.

          • Miracle River

            “thought-experiments” — invented my men!

            Oooo-er. You can’t be doing that then can you?

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_experiment#Origins_and_use_of_the_literal_term

          • Linden

            Yes, because men have patented asking, “what if…”.
            Answer the question. I’ll throw in clowes for toothache! Or perhaps you’ll decide to eschew anything that was invented or developed by women, and step away from your computer.

      • Miracle River

        His “employers”, for reasons known only to God, did not even bother to talk to him or here his side of the story. They just saw the Twitter hits and fired him.

        • Who?

          Fair enough too, and well within their rights. Good people have been let go from actual paying jobs for a lot less.

          • Miracle River

            Yes. All those weak little soft girls studying science at school were so shocked and enfeebled, that they had to get rid of him. The poor loves.

          • Amazed

            And touch macho burst out in tears at finding out that the world didn’t think him as funny as he thought himself. Poor dear.

          • Miracle River

            Yes. Big Hugs all round!

          • Who?

            You do that on your own for now. We’re allowed to politely refuse these days, which must be super annoying for you.

          • Miracle River

            “We’re allowed to politely refuse these days..”

            I don’t imagine you get many offers “these days”. Am I right? 🙂

          • Who?

            Fancy some sad old random on the internet who can’t read properly thinking I’m not attractive! The horror.

            So I assume you don’t avail yourself of medical treatments developed by or with women, as you probably fear they are secretly laced with anti-manhood stuff?

          • Miracle River

            sad: joking about mental illness – depression. Discrimination.

            old: joking about people because of their age – ageism.

            can’t read properly: joking about people because of their lack of education, IQ and reading disabilities.

            This “joking” stuff is very naughty eh? LOL

          • Who?

            Not joking, MR.

          • Miracle River

            Quod erat demonstrandum

          • Who?

            That’s just silly. Anyway, they want those weak little girls, as you call them. And much as you may not like it, those girls have choice.

            Why would they choose to go there, with him, after that, if they could choose somewhere else.

            Follow the money, MR. It’s really that simple.

          • Miracle River

            “Why would they choose to go there, with him, after that”

            Well they wouldn’t. They are so weak, feeble minded and “emotional”, that given the choice between going to work with a Nobel prize winning scientist who has a long history of encouraging women in science (hint: he was addressing a conference of women in science), they would rather stay at home and watch box sets of “Friends”.

            The poor loves. Hugs and feelzzzz all round!

          • Amazed

            A few days ago, I helped an editor friend make a list with a male translator’s blatant mistakes. There were so many of them that the text was barely readable. What happened when she sent them to him, what do you think?

            Just what you think. He was trying to play the manly man but in fact, we went into hysterics. He threw a tantrum that was evident in his written ramblings.

            And Ser Tim Hunt thinks that women crying into the lab is a problem! What should we do about men who outdo women in hysterics when faced with criticism of their work?

          • Who?

            I’m not actually sure it is a gender issue, but perhaps a lack of confidence or something on his part. My first thought was perhaps he has faked his credentials, and somehow hasn’t been caught out until now. Or if he’s a longterm staff member with a good record, I’d think there’s some problem that’s affecting his work.

            If it was me I’d be checking those credentials, if relevant. I’d then remind him in writing that he is under the direction of whoever and required to work to a particular standard, and then, if the credentials were fine, finding someone-inside or outside the organisation-for him to talk to about whatever was ailing him to make that happen, and offering support.

          • Amazed

            Here, we work with different publishing houses and sign contracts for every book. Our man’s work just fell short of standard and I don’t think he didn’t know it, especially when he had some very shocking mistakes pointed out to him. But he went about it insulting us and being patronizing at the same time – Lady Editoress, and you see, we wouldn’t know this or that because we haven’t lived long enough, and we shouldn’t trust Google to tell us that the specific terms he used were wrong (when in fact, we consulted my dad who WORKS in this particular field the terms were from). It’s up to the publisher to decide if he’d give him a new book but my friend has made it clear that she would not work with the man from now on. It’s not worth it if he’d raise a fuss over any critic and try to prove how right he was when he was wrong.

            But it was a really impressive mix of sexism and ageism that we received.

          • Who?

            Yes sounds good if they can just not use him again, he sounds like more trouble than he’s worth.

          • Amazed

            Definitely not worth it. Especially when it’s the editor who’s expected to be ready in a period reasonable for editing and not rewriting the book.

            It’s interesting, though, how I didn’t really pay any attention to his jibes. I just wrote them off as “ah, an old sexist, let’s move to something interesting now”. Sexism and ageism are alive and kicking in fields that are definitely not scientific. I can only imagine how much worse it is in science! I really didn’t give him more thought because that wasn’t the first time I encountered such words and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

            Gender equality my ass.

          • Who?

            Thing is your friend has the power in the end. He won’t get another job if she has anything to say about it, and it will just entrench his thoughts, which I suppose is the name to call whatever goes on between his ears.

            Men who fear women and complain they are powerful all too often create the self-fulflilling prophecy.

          • Miracle River

            “If it was me I’d be checking those credentials..”

            Oh, good-o! We need someone on the “internet” to check his work that won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001. Maybe he faked it all eh?

            Here an outline of his work, just give in the once-over will you? Ta very much.

            http://www.medica-tradefair.com/cipp/md_medica/custom/pub/content,oid,1809/lang,2/ticket,g_u_e_s_t/~/Nobel_Prize_in_Medicine_for_discoveries_of_the_%22key_regulators_of_the_cell_cycle%22.html

          • Who?

            Amazed’s subjects credentials. Just read it slowly.

    • Megan

      Actually from reading past interviews I don’t think he was supportive of women in science. Plus the fact that he called himself a chauvinist. Oh yeah, and when asked about the things he said in the recent interview, he not only didn’t deny it or say it was “just a joke,” but reiterated his comments, saying he was “just being honest.” So I don’t get the feeling at all that he is and has been supportive of women in science, regardless of whom he is married to. I would love to see your evidence supporting this notion that he is so pro-woman.

      Regardless, his employer is allowed to fire him or ask that he resign if they so choose. I have a clause in my contract that I may be terminated if I make my employer look bad by doing or saying stupid things, as do many employees.

      • Miracle River

        “Actually from reading past interviews I don’t think he was supportive of women in science.”

        Yes, that’s why he was address and conference about women in science. DOH!

        • Megan

          So his attendance alone should “prove” that he supports women in science? And we should ignore his sexist remarks, er sorry “joke” made at said conference? Right… Sure… And let me say this: it does. not. matter. if it was a joke. If I made a racist or anti-semitic “joke” at a conference, I’d be fired too. It’s offenisve.

          • Who?

            I go away to deal with one work question, and he disappears, all our very good questions unanswered.

            Seriously, I hope this isn’t his job or he’ll starve.

          • Miracle River

            Awwww — did you miss me? 😉

          • Who?

            You’re just being stupid now. Still no answers to my questions hey.

          • Miracle River

            “You’re just being stupid now..”

            Yeah — kinda makes me fit in here eh?

          • Miracle River

            “So his attendance alone should “prove” that he supports women in science?”

            No. Exactly the opposite. This Noble prize winning scientist, who has made a huge contribution towards a cure for cancer, just flies around the world attending conferences celebrating female scientists so he can make sexist insults against them and then go home.

            You’re right and I was wrong. Sorry ’bout that.

          • Megan

            “You’re right and I was wrong. Sorry ’bout that.”

            Well at least we agree about one thing. Apology accepted.

          • Miracle River

            Now don’t start thinking that that means anything or that we’re an item or such like.

            I know how your girly minds work!

          • Megan

            Oh don’t worry. That never even crossed my mind. You flatter yourself.

          • Miracle River

            Oh you! You’re just being coy. It’s so cute.

          • Megan

            Well at least we have confirmation now. The men’s right “movement” is truly fueled by their inability to get laid.

          • Who?

            Indeed. They seem to have trouble finishing, though they do delight in pleasing themselves early and often.

            Any wonder they all seem to have at least one ex-wife in the picture!

          • Megan

            Seems like he finished a while ago, well before us. I guess one would call it “premature.”

          • Who?

            You’re far too kind. Based on their lack of actual interest in what anyone says in response, and total inability in any even of meaningfully engaging with it, I think they finish as they hit ‘Done’ or whatever it says on the screen.

          • lakegirl2

            Hey Megan. Try telling him you have a boyfriend already. That’s pretty much all these guys understand.

          • Megan

            Boyfriend? I’m happily married with a child!

          • lakegirl2

            Yeah. Dudes intent on pick up won’t believe that.

          • Miracle River

            It’s just your LMR. Don’t worry about it.

    • just me

      Right. So it would be okay for a scientist who purportedly supported black scientists and was married to a black scientist to speak at a conference for black scientists and joke that “you n*****s belong in a segregated lab” and we’re all supposed to just ignore his words.

      • Miracle River

        Nice try. “n******s” is a racist slur. Segregation was use to oppress people who were considered sub-human.

        Tim Hunt was making a light-hearted joke about the oldest subject known to human kind, and present in all cultures: The interaction between men and women, and all the trials and tribulations that come with that.

        And I assume you want to ban all rap music eh?

        • Who?

          Yes, but jokes that make you look like you don’t support the values of the organisation you represent are just the kind of thing that get you let go. Which is what happened. Happens every day.

          Get over it.

          • Miracle River

            “Yes, but jokes that make you look like you don’t support the values of the organisation you represent…”

            No they don’t. They are light hearted quips, jokes, silly tales.

            But of course I quite understand that all these weak and feeble minded female graduates can’t appreciate that, so they need extra loving care and hugs on their way to winning Nobel Prizes.

          • Who?

            I can never understand why women haters/fearers want to hand women so much power. The universities did this, not the women. You’ll feel less angry if you can take that on board.

          • Miracle River

            “I can never understand…”

            Well, we got that bit! LOL

          • Who?

            Explain it to me then. Why do you want to give women such power when you hate and fear them? Is it to justify your feelings?

          • Miracle River

            Oh dear, “feelings”.

            What are those then? Will they help find a cure for cancer and win me a Nobel Prize.

          • Who?

            The question, MR, the question.

            If you really want to troll with any skill at all, you have to address the actual points not just pick out whatever words jump towards your fevered brain.

          • Miracle River

            “If you really want to troll with any skill at all, you have to address the actual points..”

            You really don’t understand trolling do you?! LOL

          • Who?

            It’s true, I don’t. Why oh why would you want to stir up more unhappiness than there already is in the world.

            The great thing about it is though, and one of the reasons I persist, is we both feel like winners.

            You, because you’ve teased some people you despise without even knowing them; me because I’ve drawn you out and watched you avoid my questions.

            And two winners can’t be a bad thing in any game, wouldn’t you agree? Oh but you can’t….

          • Miracle River

            “wouldn’t you agree? Oh but you can’t….”

            Don’t worry… if you nag me long enough I’ll give in! 😉

          • Who?

            Oh honey I’m not nagging you. I’m taunting you. You just don’t see it.

            And I won’t play if you don’t answer my actual questions. Here’s a summary:

            *why do you give women so much power
            *why do you assume a huge university can’t make decisions in its own best interests
            *why didn’t they support him?

            Try one.

          • Miracle River

            “Oh honey I’m not nagging you. I’m taunting you…”

            You’re nagging, trust me 🙂

          • Who?

            You feel nagged, because you are a born victim.

          • Miracle River

            Mummy – is that you???

          • lakegirl2

            “Cure for cancer” must be the go to for people who don’t understand modern scientific research, cancer treatments or building a cogent argument.
            It’s like the Godwin Law of science. Reference to cancer and/or Hitler immediately disqualify your argument.

          • Roadstergal

            Yep – cancer is just one monolithic disease with one single, simple cure waiting out there for a brilliant man (yes, man) to find (by Sciencing with Science).

          • lakegirl2

            And HE will shout “EUREKA! I have found the cure for cancer! All cancers, all the time!” Don’t forget the eureka line. It’s a very important that they do that or what will history record?

          • Roadstergal

            It’s part of the due process science thing.

    • SuperGDZ

      I can see how his spoken words can be cobbled into a semblance of an ironic joke about sexism, rather than about women, although this wouldn’t be the clearest and most obvious interpretation of his statements. I would nevertheless be prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt if he hadn’t had several opportunities to clarify his statements and repeatedly maintained that he felt he was simply stating the truth.

      For example, on BBC Radio 4: Today Programme, 10 June 2015:

      “It’s terribly important that you, um, can criticise people’s ideas without criticising them. And if they burst into tears, it means that you tend to hold back from, you know, getting at the absolute truth – I means, what – science is about nothing except getting at the truth. And anything that gets in the way of that diminishes, in my experience, the science. I mean, I’m really, really sorry that I caused any offence – that’s awful. I certainly didn’t mean – I just meant to be honest, actually.”

    • indigosky

      Most of us don’t know him in person. And his words are being broadcast to people who don’t know him. Those words are going to make it sound like he supports the exclusion of women in STEM fields and influence those who already believe that.

      That is why what we say is so important – your words will travel further than your actions, and oftentimes to people who have never met you. I personally had never heard of the guy until this debacle, and now that is the only thing I’m ever going to think of when I see his name.

      You cannot unsay what you have said.

      • Miracle River

        > Those words are going to make it sound like he supports the exclusion of women in STEM fields and influence those who already believe that.

        Only if you are bit simple in the head and WANT them to sound like that.

        Hint: It’s call a “joke” to lighten things up.

        • Who?

          Yes and he blew it. His employer didn’t like it, and they exercised their right to have him be not under their roof anymore.

          We can have a conversation about whether they were too hasty, we can talk about why it is they let him go with such alacrity, but however you cut it they clearly didn’t want hm anymore.

          It’s super easy, stop trying to make it complicated.

          • Miracle River

            “His employer didn’t like it…”

            His employer was a coward and gave into the mob, to which you are exhibit A.

          • Who?

            Oh pull the other one it has bells on. They could have swooped in the communications team, tidied him up, had him make a statement flanked by his scientist wife (who some people seem to find a compelling example of his good guy status) and all the femaie scientists he had in his lab, and had them all talk about his fabulousness, how nervous he is talking in public, and his predisposition to saying stupid stuff he doesn’t mean when speaking without notes.

            It would have been over before lunch the next day and social media could have continued to go nuts to its heart’s content.

            Ask yourself why they didn’t.

          • Miracle River

            “Oh pull the other one it has bells on..”

            Indeed, indeed.

          • Who?

            Do address the point. If you can.

            You know I’m right. The simple solution is usually the right one.

          • Miracle River

            “You know I’m right…”

            God! You sound like my ex-wife 😉

          • Who?

            Well thankyou, I’m sure she’s a lovely woman.

            And my point, MR, do address it.

          • Miracle River

            ” I’m sure she’s a lovely woman…”

            That’s what I thought — once!

        • indigosky

          I really hope you were not referring to me as simple, though with the way you are defending your beloved Mr. Hunt you probably were referring to me.

          So joking that women should be segregated from laboratories because they are too emotional to be professional? Haha, real funny. It’s “jokes” like that that have kept me from advancing as far as I should have because while I am have the highest client retention, I’m still an “emotional” female and can’t be trusted to lead men, lest I fall in love with them and cry about it.

          I don’t care if it was a joke, it’s not funny. Way too many people truly believe what he says. It’s dangerous to women and to men and to scientific growth.

          • Who?

            Oh yes he was talking about you.

            And as you point out, in science it actually matters big picture-how many women who would have been great scientists are left spinning their wheels?

            I do gather though that he doesn’t use medicines or other scientific developments that women have participated in. Or I assume not, because he was telling someone else before she should never take any treatment developed by Prof H if she thought the decision to let him go was reasonable.

            So he might not be around long.

          • Miracle River

            ‘It’s “jokes” like that that have kept me from advancing as far as I should have…”

            “Do you know that one of the great problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas.”

            ― Margaret Thatcher [Chemist, specialising in X-ray crystallography & Prime Minister of the UK 1979-1990]

    • Amelia

      No, and Sir Tim Hunt doesn’t get a pass for his real-life behavior at the conference. Non sequitor.
      So, in your perfect world, once a person reaches some level of helpfulness they can behave in boorish and harmful ways without consequence? I don’t think you’d really like that world too much.

      • Miracle River

        “some level of helpfulness…”

        You mean winning the Nobel prize for work that may go a long way to finding a cure for cancer — you know, cancers of the breast, cervix, womb, ovaries etc.

        That sort of “helpfulness” eh?

        What’s your day job?

        • Who?

          What’s yours?

          • Miracle River

            Trolling dorks like you.

          • Who?

            Oh lovey that’s your job? I’m so sorry. I thought it was a newish hobby, you’re not very good yet.

            Practice, practice, practice!

          • Miracle River

            No shortage of suitable subjects for by hobby here! Actually, you make it all a bit easy I’m afraid.

          • Who?

            Always happy to help a fellow internet lurker in need. And a charity case, obviously.

            Offering constructive feedback, you’re skills in this area are likely to fall into the ‘still developing’ category.

          • Miracle River

            “…likely to fall into the ‘still developing’ category.”

            That’s why I practicing on you easy-to-troll types to start with — before I move on to more professional comments sections with much smarter folk.

            Thanks!

        • Gozi

          He lost an honorary position. He didn’t lose the right to be a scientist.

          • Miracle River

            I don’t think you understood my comment.

            Try again!

  • Tosca

    I am using this a lot lately. https://xkcd.com/1357/

  • Fraga123

    Yes, these evil white men need a take down – thank you for pointing that out! Racism and sexism are nonstarters, and need to be addressed!

    • Linden

      Take your hyperbole and shove it.
      People who have legitimate grievances have every right to react, and be amused by the defensive, OTT responses from these oh-so-objective male scientists.

      • Fraga123

        White male hegemony.
        Phallocratic oppression.
        Toxic masculinity.
        Gendercidal discrimination.

        • Who?

          I think your head may be exploding.

          • Taysha

            I think we broke she/he/it/they. Mumbling codewords while rocking in a corner is not very conducive to discussion.
            Maybe they need a juice box and a nap.

          • lakegirl2

            What’s amazing is that people keep saying that feminists are the emotional/over-the-top ones but it’s really the people defending the patriarchal status quo.

        • Jane Robertson

          Who? is right, we are worried about you. Have a lie down, and stop worrying your pretty little head.

          • Who?

            He’d be much more attractive if he smiled more.

        • Siri

          Go back to looking at your winky-wonker through a magnifying glass.

        • just me

          Is this a haiku?

          • Who?

            Not a good one.

            It must make Tim Hunt so proud and happy to have people like Fraga and MR co-opt this embarrassing incident to feed their moronic fantasy needs.

            Particularly if he is the great supporter of women they claim he is.

          • Linden

            Frankly, I’d be utterly embarrassed if MR and Fraga were the ones who had my back. I’d be apologising to anyone who would listen.

          • Who?

            I’m assuming Tim H is a hard working fiercely intelligent person who isn’t terribly good at speaking without notes.

            He can’t be very comfortable with sad old stupids like this supporting him. They are probably doing more damage to his rep than losing those couple of positions did.

      • Fraga123

        Especially the lying, resume-falsifying female Faculty of Color who point fingers. Grievance is their middle name.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      It’s much easier to whine than to address the actual issue, isn’t it?

      • Fraga123

        One of his first accusers falsified her credentials on, well, just about all her experience: http://tinyurl.com/serial-liar .

        Why should she have any credibility here?

        Don’t worry, no sacking for her. She just lied about her resume, but at least she’s not an old white male.

        And his comments were taken out of context: http://tinyurl.com/context-key .

        No matter, he is a straight white male. Time to dispose of him and put, perhaps, Connie St. Louis in his place! She can add imaginary details and accomplishments on that role to her resume once she is formally appointed.

        Diversity today, diversity tomorrow, diversity forever!

        • Fallow

          You people are so tiresome. You sit around all day searching the internet for a chance to whine and cry that you’re finally, FINALLY being forced to share the world with people who are different from you.

          You, literally, must have nothing else to do. There’s no other explanation for how people like you always show up to comment on blogs that everyone knows you don’t normally read. You’re desperately looking for an opportunity to spray your MRA/white supremacist feces on other people’s walls. Jesus Christ, get a life. Get a therapist. Take up a pot habit. Just go away and let the adults talk.

          • Fraga123

            Sorry, didn’t mean to bring up patriarchal issues like facts and analysis.

          • Miracle River

            “…You sit around all day searching the internet for a chance to whine and cry”

            er… and what are you doing exactly LOL.

            Takes one to know one!

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Men are such irrational, emotional creatures. Like you, they have so much trouble identifying the issue under discussion and addressing it. Instead, like you, they’d prefer to whine about mean women.

          • Fraga123

            #jackiespokethetruthletscrucifytimhunt

    • Taysha

      Come talk to me when you’re treated like a second class scientists even if YOU are the one pointing out the errors and the solutions. Come talk to me when you’re told your children make you a bad scientist by some people who don’t know where the pointy end of the pipet is.
      Come talk to me when you’re passed over in favor of a man with no degree because “women can’t do this work”. Except that you have done it in half the time with more success.

      Until then, hush your noisemaker.

      • Fraga123

        I hear you, Sister. Let’s join hands and pray the evil Whitemale and his rapebeast cohorts get a taster of Justice!

        • Taysha

          See, as I’ve worked all my life to better science, you’re not funny. You’re an idiot.
          And you’re out of your league if you think catch words like that are going to get a rise out of me. You’re not even in the bleachers.

          • Fraga123

            Whoa. Back off, Feminista! Or I’ll be forced to defend myself!

          • Taysha

            I’d love to see that. Never seen an unarmed person fight a battle of wits.

          • Fraga123

            I need to consult my clitorinomics text here. Vag on!

          • Taysha

            Could you be any more tedious?
            Please do not take that as a challenge. Just quietly slip away.

          • MaineJen

            I have no doubt the bright green lizard *can* be more tedious…you just have to give him/her time. He/she must be flipping back and forth between dozens of discussions at this moment. Trolling is a tough “job,” but someone has to do it…I guess.

          • Amelia

            Fraga doesn’t seem to realize the context is only further cemented after “but seriously.” Big surprise.

          • Who?

            Yes I’m not sure it’s as helpful as some others seem to think it is.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            No, you need to consult a textbook of basic logic since you are clearly quite confused about what constitutes a logcal argument.

          • Fraga123
          • Who?

            You are a patronising dullard.

            I doubt you could find or would be interested in finding anything to do with a clitoris, which is no doubt to your way of thinking a feminist construct only.

          • Fraga123

            Empowered. Beautiful.

          • just me

            A line from Seinfeld seems appropriate here: what did your parents do to you?

          • Amelia

            LMAO, somehow I get the idea Fraga’s not the first unarmed fool you’ve come across. Guard, Perry, Thrust! /settles in with popcorn

  • Rosalind Dalefield

    Tim Hunt is on record for saying that he *wasn’t* joking. When first asked by UCL to apologize, he doubled-down and refused. He thus gave them no choice but to ask for his resignation, which he then gave.

    • JennyS

      Well the full transcript has been released, we’re going to see who was lying and who wasn’t. The truth is all that really matters curing cancer and stuff is pretty irrelevant when it comes to feelings.

      • lakegirl2

        Oh, please. As if this resignation will have an ounce of effect on the multitude of studies on the multitude of cancer treatments currently being pursued in the world. Here’s an idea, maybe if we didn’t make half the talent pool feel unwanted in the lab, we’d be able to complete even more research towards cures for all sorts of diseases. Crazy thought, huh?

        • JennyS

          What you mean ‘half’?

          • Linden

            😀
            Truly, “Jenny” is unaware that there are some people called “women” and they constitute over half the human population.
            We need better trolls.

          • Who?

            It’s a wonder to me she’s allowed (or would want to be) near a computer at all, sciencey things that they are, I suppose expecting her to type more than a word or two is bound to lead to disappointment.

            Though it is a rest from the prolixity of the males gracing us with their attention recently.

          • lakegirl2

            Well, you know, maybe she thinks being on a computer will “cure cancer” so she’s just doing her part.

          • JennyS

            Half of all science graduates are women? Or are you just doing a statistics for dummies thing?

          • Linden

            More than half of biology degrees go to women in the US. I believe the same in the UK. And you have reading comprehension problems. Lakegirl said “talent pool”.
            I guess being a misogynist really does erode the brain cells. Someone should find a cure for that.

          • lakegirl2

            Thank you. I thought I was pretty clear on what I meant (ie. half the world’s population is female ergo by making women uncomfortable in a lab/STEM fields, you were potentially excluding half the population) but apparently JennyS is busy worrying about “curing cancer”.

      • Linden

        What matters is that we utilise the full talent pool of people to reseach “curing cancer and stuff”.
        Sexisim, racism et. will reduce the pool, and reduce the effectiveness of the researchers. Tim Hunt did his field a massive disservice. He *eventually* apologised.

      • Wombat

        So by that logic, Peter Duesberg is right about AIDS or at least relevant enough that we should support him advising African nations in crisis?

        Just because someone once did something amazing with their life or work doesn’t mean they’re right or untouchable forever.

      • Fallow

        You’re ridiculous enough to believe that “curing cancer” is a phrase that makes sense – so it makes sense you can’t sort through other complex situations and ideas very well.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    I’ve been in a national park for the past 2 days so I’ve had only limited internet access, and haven’t been able to respond to comments and emails. I’m back now.

    • NoLongerCrunching

      Whew! My finger is sore from pressing reload 🙂

    • Gozi

      It’s a madhouse!

  • Gatita

    OT: Worst birth story ever: Woman gives birth in woods, fights off bees, starts forest fire: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-woman-lost-forest-20150630-story.html

    When I saw the headline I was convinced it was going to be a stunt birth but no, the poor woman got stranded in the woods while in labor.

    • D:

      The worst.

    • Cobalt

      Wow.

    • Amy M

      I saw that! Crazy, huh?

    • FormerPhysicist

      Really says something about when it’s NOT a stunt birth. It’s scary when there’s no help, no phone, no medical, no gas, …. Even after the birth went okay, bees after a newborn? Scary.

  • demodocus

    Let me put it another way. I teasingly call my Irish-American husband “boy” on a regular basis. On occasion, I will refer to his beep baseball team as “boys” if they are acting overly macho. I would *never* call teammates Bill, Bert, or Simon “boy” individually, because those three men have a long family and maybe even personal histories of being like children by whites.

  • KarenJJ

    “I’m free to have my opinion”.

    “Well so am I”.

    So simple.

    • Who?

      And so, incidentally, are employers whose employees speak or behave intemperately.

      Which, in the Hunt case, they exercised.

  • Who?

    This whole saga is very confusing to me. Person talks like moron. Other people call him out on it. Employer-with frankly indecent haste-lets him go. Some other people go nuts, not at the spineless employer, but at the people who complained!!! Who just happen to share a physical characteristic over which they have no (easy) control with the group maligned in moronic speech.

    The world is very strange.

    • Wombat

      How is it indecent haste? They said resign or we’ll instigate termination proceedings, and the remarks were not in question.

      Obviously it would have likely taken longer to terminate him than the resignation, especially if he has tenure. But as what actually happened (a resignation at the threat of attempted termination) it seems pretty normal…

      It also means Tim Hunt wanted to fight back less than Tim Hunt’s supporters.

      • Who?

        A lot of employers wouldn’t be quite so fast about abandoning a visible staff member due to public pressure, regardless of the fairness or not of the pressure. I thought they might have at least made a token public effort to keep him, whatever was going on behind the scenes.

        I’m assuming they didn’t even get a junior member of the communications team in to help him buff up his response, but perhaps they did and he rejected it.

        But it did feel like not a lot of loyalty to a (formerly?) eminent senior staff member. I do wonder if it was in part a shot across the bows of any other loose lipped dinosaurs in the vicinity.

        • Megan

          As a physician it has been a clause in every single one of my contracts that should I engage in behavior that makes myself, and hence my employer look bad. I guarantee if I made remarks against a minority group at a public conference I would be disciplined harshly in the least and possibly fired. I have seen other physicians fired for doing less than making sexist remarks on a public platform.

          • Megan

            Not sure how my sentence got cut off but it should have read:

            As a physician it has been a clause in every single one of my contracts that should I engage in behavior that makes myself, and hence my employer look bad that I face consequences, including possible termination.

          • Who?

            I’ve had that in contracts too. I just think it’s interesting they clearly had no desire to keep him, which they certainly could have chosen to do.

          • Wombat

            It was a more honorary position… I think they’d rather drop the hot potato and maybe have him back on later if he can manage to actually appear reticent. Personally I am not surprised, his remarks torpedoed the only reason they would want to keep him: scientific relevancy and recruitment. Especially if he actually did refuse their apology request (not sure on that point).

            Also, a former nobel laureate isn’t always as prestigious as it once was… a lot of them know they’ve topped out and spiral off into the loony side of science because why not, or they’re bored, or they feel like they now have a platform/argument from authority despite being way outside their field and knowledge. We’re talking AIDS denialism, fringe/alternative medicine, radical ‘toxins’ theory, directed alien colonization, the works. They may just be writing him off as ‘one of them gone nutty’. He jumped the shark, in essence c:

      • Rosalind Dalefield

        They first asked him to apologize, which he refused to do.

  • just me

    Yes, I love it when people think freedom of speech means no consequences of any kind, ever, vs. government can’t prevent you from/ punish you for speaking in a public forum (although the govt can make reasonable time place manner regulations).

  • Mac Sherbert

    OT – It looks like this school is assuming c-section = birth trama. Really are schools now out to label csection kids. Are there any studies that show c-sectionbabies are more likely to have learning disabilities, ect. http://m.waff.com/waff/pm_/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=od:ISQvh8Cd

    • CharlotteB

      When I was getting evaluated for ADHD, one of the questions was about birth trauma. I’d think it would be reasonable to ask about any diagnosed developmental delays, but c-section? That seems awfully personal.

      Am I reading the article correctly–you have to apply to attend public kindergarten??? Oh no.

      • Who?

        The birth trauma question is fair enough, but cs? Too far, and not relevant. I doubt if any teacher or school administrator would have anyting useful to do with the answer.

        • Chi

          Especially since c-section can PREVENT other types of birth trauma, such as shoulder dystocia, tearing, etc.

          • Daleth

            Right you are, Chi. I can’t think of a single type of birth trauma, with the exception of being nicked with the scalpel, that happens because of c-sections. Pretty much every form of birth trauma that there is happens because of vaginal birth.

      • Mac Sherbert

        Also, consider you were asked that as you were getting evaluated. Once there is an issue it can make sense to ask questions like that, but they are asking this question for every child. Why? Does having been born by c-section make a child more likely to have a disability of some kind? Even if it did doesn’t this just kind of create bias in the minds of teachers?

        Surely, they meant register for K?

    • Cobalt

      I’m glad that question is on the application. Let’s me know up front that I would not want to send my kids to that school, as it is obviously run by all natural idiots.

      Now, if this was tracking for an actual study, and the answer was truly blinded, I might reconsider. But it doesn’t sound as if that’s the case.

    • Ardea
      • N

        My kids are born with C-section. My first one had a lot of problems in kindergarden. His teacher didn’t ask about birth but sent us do a lot of tests, like hyperactive or hearing tests… We went to doctors and psychologist with the result… he is gifted, has a high IQ and is really bored at kindergarden! Is that learning disability also caused by the c-section?

        • Daleth

          Awesome! Sign me up for another c-section!

    • firelizard

      Then how am I supposed to answer that question? My children were adopted through the county. I have no clue how they were born or if they were premature, as there are no medical records for any time spent with their birth family, so I’m missing the first several years of their medical history.

      Of course, if I had birthed them, my answer would be “why does it matter? None of your business.”

    • Daleth

      The crazy thing is that apart from getting nicked with the scalpel, I can’t think of any birth trauma that is caused by c-sections. All the ones I can name–hypoxia, brachial plexus palsy, yada yada–are caused by difficult vaginal births, and PREVENTED by pre-labor c-sections.

      • Cobalt

        The only correlation would be cesareans performed after failed vaginal deliveries. If the baby was in severe distress there could be long range consequences. That’s not because of the cesarean, though, that’s from the cesarean coming too late.

        • Daleth

          Yep, exactly. It’s not cesareans that hurt babies, it’s vaginal births (or failed overlong attempts at vaginal birth).

    • Megan

      Oh please. Sounds like the school nurse has fallen for the woo but doesn’t a tuly understand science or obstetrics. I guarantee you that my CS actually improved my daughters chances at not having a learning disability given the alternative to the csection (OP and asynclitic after failed 5 day induction).

    • Gatita

      My son has been through early intervention, has had a full neuropsych workup and now has an IEP and during every single eval I was asked whether I had a CS. I have no idea if there’s any science to back it up but it’s a standard question in special needs world. P.S. no CS, completely uneventful induction.

      • Cobalt

        Well, I think asking about a CS is valid if it is followed up with questions about why. A baby that required rescue via emergency CS might have been compromised before the CS. You have to make sure they’re not putting the cart before the horse. The CS doesn’t cause injury, but desperately needing one might.

        FWIW, my son’s evaluations have all asked about potential birth trauma, which I think is a better way to get the relevant information.

        • Siri

          The most badly damaged baby I ever saw was born vaginally, to a multip, after hours and hours of dodgy CTG tracing. Several primips went to theatre meanwhile, and their babies came out pink and screaming. This baby came out green with meconium and clinically dead, and was resuscitated for 21 minutes, eventually breathing independently. It was an obscenely, tragically mismanaged case.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            That’s absolutely horrible. That poor baby.

      • Medwife

        I’ve been asked about my pregnancy and the birth of my autistic son, but only got the sense they were screening for oxygen deprivation or other birth injury.

        Totally problem free pregnancy and normal spontaneous vag delivery at 39 weeks, spontaneous labor btw. But I was a c/s so maybe my guy flora was messed up from that, hence messing his up and drawing down the autism curse. 😛

    • Guest

      When I see sick kids in the ER and they are under 3 months, I often ask if they were c/s or vaginal (along with if they were premature, regular meds, etc). If they were born via c/s, I often ask why. The reason is that sometimes parents don’t know that an emergency section can be considered a legitimate part of the past medical history. It also is important in an infant with a fever when the amniotic fluid was broken. A newborn with a fever delivered by routine section is much less likely to have a herpes infection than vaginal delivery. There is no judgement here. Just some risk stratification.

      You might be surprised how often people will say that they (or their kids) have no medical issues, but their list of regular medications is as long as their arm and their body is criss crossed with surgical scars. I once had a parent of a 5 month old say, ” Nope, no medical problems” who was 2 months premature with a congenital cardiac defect (midline sternotomy scar). I pointed out the scar and the parent said, “oh, well she hasn’t seen her cardiologist in a month and her (list of ten) medshasn’t changed since then), so she’s doing great!”

      But as to whether it is important for school? Not sure why they ask…

  • ladyloki

    What is with all these people who demand free speech but refuse to accept the consequences of said free speech? You say something you know will offend people, you need to do yourself a favor and keep your mouth shut, or be prepared to have your ass handed to you. It’s not that hard of a concept.

  • Gatita

    Instead of throwing up that XKCD comic again, I’ll quote from the hovertext:

    I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.

    • Daleth

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Roadstergal
    • MJ

      The look on Deborah Blum’s face in the photograph accompanying her article paints a thousand words.

  • Megan

    “Woah! What’s next? Donating the proceeds from sale of his unicorn?”

    Love this!