The Nobel Prize In Sexism

Remind me again what you won the Nobel Prize for? Oh wait, you didn’t. But Tim Hunt did for Physiology or Medicine in 2001 for groundbreaking work on cell division.  So the 72-year-old Nobel Prize winner wise-cracked a quasi-joke?

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,” Mr. Hunt said Monday at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea. “Three things happen when they are in the lab: You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them they cry.”

It fell like a lead balloon, as the room went dead silent.  But then, Connie St Louis, the director of the science journalism program at City University London, took to the twitters to spread the outrage of another Brit who tells a bad joke.

Some female scientists responded by using sarcasm:

Prof. Sophie Scott of University College London, who researches the neuroscience of voices, speech and laughter, wrote on Twitter, “I am in the office, but I can’t do my science work as I saw a photograph of #TimHunt and now I’m in love, dammit.”

Kate Devlin, a lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, added in a Twitter post of her own, “Dear department: please note l will be unable to chair the 10am meeting this morning because I am too busy swooning and crying. #TimHunt.”

Other women responded to the comments by posting photographs of themselves working as scientists, some in playful poses, with the hashtag #distractinglysexy.

This was pretty funny stuff, and certainly witty and pointed enough to make clear that Tim Hunt’s comments were foolish and out-of-touch, not to mention not very funny.  So there you have it, dumb speech met with witty speech, and witty clearly beat the daylights out of dumb speech.

Tim Hunt got the message, apologizing:

He told BBC Radio that he was “really, really sorry” for causing any offense, even as he stood by some of what he had said.

But sorry though he may have been, he went on to explain that his comments weren’t entirely facetious.

“I did mean the part about having trouble with girls,” he said. “I have fallen in love with people in the lab and people in the lab have fallen in love with me, and it’s very disruptive to the science because it’s terribly important that in a lab people are on a level playing field.”

That’s pretty creepy, but reflects mostly on him, and perhaps his social awkwardness, rather than any women in the lab. The same can’t be said for this:

And he elaborated on his comments that women are prone to cry when criticized.

“It’s terribly important that you can criticize people’s ideas without criticizing them and if they burst into tears, it means that you tend to hold back from getting at the absolute truth,” he said. “Science is about nothing but getting at the truth, and anything that gets in the way of that diminishes, in my experience, the science.”

If science is “about nothing but getting at the truth,” is this truth?  Are women scientists “prone to cry when criticized”?  That’s a question only scientists can answer, since the rest of us aren’t hanging around the lab enough to gather sufficient data points.  But then, does anyone really expect a truthful answer to such a sexist assertion?

A Nobel laureate has resigned as honorary professor at University College London after saying that female scientists should be segregated from male colleagues because women cry when criticized and are a romantic distraction in the laboratory.

University College London said in a statement that Mr. Hunt, who was knighted in 2006, had resigned his post in the faculty of life sciences on Wednesday.

Whether one views Tim Hunt’s comments as abhorrently sexist or an abhorrently sexist joke gone bad, he’s gone.  A Nobel laureate has been chased out of academia for having expressed unacceptable thoughts about women.

At 72 years of age, it’s not clear how many good teaching years he had ahead of him, but for however long he might have shared the scientific voodoo that swirled around in his head, he won’t. And every student who might have gleaned something from him, every student, regardless of gender, who might have learned some science-y tidbit that would someday garner a Nobel Prize of their own, will never gain that insight.

This is not to excuse, forgive or trivialize what Tim Hunt said, but there was once a time when a bad joke, even one grounded in a sincerely held belief, would be dismissed by groans, a riposte that smacked the jokester hard enough to make sure he realized that his idea of funny was not universally shared, and then everyone would move on to more serious matters.

In other words, an inappropriate statement or joke would get the reception it deserved, but the big boys and girls would get over it, because there were other issues of greater importance that deserved their attention.  No longer. Not for Tim Hunt.

Students are denied access to the information that a Nobel Prize winner would impart to them, though they will be given full access to every person who has called for Hunt to be drawn and quartered, emasculated, severed limb from limb, for having uttered such offensiveness.

How many of Tim Hunt’s critics have won Nobel Prizes?  How many sensitive to the nuance of gender offense will be able to teach the next generation of scientists about cell division like Tim Hunt could?  Is it enough that laboratories around the world will be filled with women working alongside men in a non-sexist environment, though without the insight of great scientists who happen to also be sexist pigs?  So who really wins here?

74 thoughts on “The Nobel Prize In Sexism

  1. Keith

    I’m on board with the general tone of your post — but the relevant question here is whether it was indicative of how he behaved in the lab or not. If he recognized talent, whether it came from an XY or XX – I couldn’t give a crap about how bad he failed at a joke and the #distractinglysexy hashtag was more than enough to make up for it. Not to mention funny!

    But if he was known for suppressing opinions based on gender in the lab, he may well have been pushing away generations of people eligible for a Nobel prize. Science is about knowledge and transmission of information.

    Actions, not bad jokes, should be what matters.

    1. SHG Post author

      While we don’t have information to suggest how he acted in his lab, it seems fair to infer that he either wasn’t sexist or that his sexism wasn’t sufficiently problematic to present a problem from the fact that he was still working at 72 without, as far as appears, any scandal or incident.

      But then, what part of your being “on board” do you think is relevant? While making an excellent substantive point, is your validation really the most important thing for every other reader here? Are people around the world wondering, “but how does Keith feel about this?”

      1. Keith

        “[I]s your validation really the most important thing for every other reader here?”
        No

        “Are people around the world wondering, “but how does Keith feel about this?””
        I can only hope, but if they only focus on people with an “excellent substantive point”, we’d probably be better off. Thanks for blogging.

      2. tgt

        “While we don’t have information to suggest how he acted in his lab, it seems fair to infer that he either wasn’t sexist or that his sexism wasn’t sufficiently problematic to present a problem from the fact that he was still working at 72 without, as far as appears, any scandal or incident.”

        That’s pure bullshit. We know from his comments that his sexism DID cause problems in his lab. That was what his comments were about.

        1. SHG Post author

          “We know”? No, we do not. You know? Perhaps. The perpetually outraged seem to always “know” stuff that eludes rational people.

          1. Tgt

            What? He said the problems in his lab. If we can’t take that as a given, then we might as well start arguing if each other actually exists.

            1. SHG Post author

              Just stop. You had your say. I appreciate that you see dead people, but we’re not going to argue the point.

    2. Dave

      While it is true that it would be bad if he did such things Keith mentions, it misses the fact that this Nobel prize winner is gone solely for the bad joke and not for anything he did or did not do in the lab or with his students. In fact, there is no evidence he ever did any such thing. If he had, then sure, that would be a good reason for him not to be teaching anymore. But the only evidence on the table is that he told a bad joke and is now gone solely for the joke.

      There is a general problem with defining people solely by the worst (or stupidest) thing they’ve ever done and treating them poorly for that reason. (Like having to check the “felon” box on a job application..) and now I will end the digression.

  2. Tgt

    1) Hunt wasn’t chased out of academia. He still has his day job and multiple other honorary positions.

    2) Your argument to keep Hunt is basically “Tim was right. Women are too sensitive.” Where do you draw the line of when he can be punished? He flat out said he’s prejudiced against half his lab. Why should an employer be forced to keep him around?

    3) There’s also a nice appeal to authority. Why do I have to have a Nobel to criticize a Nobel Laureate? How many of [killer cop]’s critics have been police officers? Its a stupid argument in any situation.

    1. SHG Post author

      You’re only allowed to recharacterize my argument into a strawman if you get it right. You don’t. By no means do I suggest “Tim is right,” but I do suggest that even though Tim is wrong, the “death penalty” deprives science of what he has to offer. If Jonas Salk made sexist comments, should society be blighted with polio?

      And to add insult to injury, you didn’t even grasp the point about criticizing a Nobel laureate. It was not that someone who doesn’t have a Nobel can’t criticize, but that they offer nothing but the usual gender outrage, which can be found on ten thousand Tumblrs, while a Nobel laureate offers thought that has been of such enormous value to society that it has been found worthy of a Nobel Prize.

      What’s more valuable to society, a sexist Nobel laureate or gender outrage? You’ve already given your answer.

      1. Matt

        “If Jonas Salk made sexist comments, should society be blighted with polio?”

        Hm, that’s an interesting argument. Who gets to play Saint Peter and evaluate who gets a pass when “good” people do “bad” things? Is there a calculus for every offense– can literally anything be forgiven if the offender’s contribution to society was great enough?

      2. tgt

        I don’t think I’m recharacterizing your argument. You say that Hunt’s comments were bad and that shouldn’t occur, yet you think it’s just butthurt when people want to do anything about it. You’re saying the women should suck it up and stop whining. They’re too sensitive, just like Hunt was saying.

        You’re arguing that Hunt should get a pass on his behavior because he’s done good things. I think that’s bullshit. Kicking Hunt out of one of his many labs does not make a single thing he has accomplished go away. Where do you draw the line in ignoring bad behavior? Is it the Nobel? Some number of well received papers? Anything positive? At one point do you get immunity from facing the consequences a regular person should face?

        1. SHG Post author

          I don’t think I’m recharacterizing your argument.

          Well then, if you don’t think so, then that’s that. Please stop, you’re just wasting space and spinning your wheels. You’re brilliant and fabulous, and puppies love you. In the meantime, you’ve left your comment, made your points, and left me unpersuaded and a bit annoyed that you turn out to be as much of a self-serving moron as appears.

          This isn’t an argument. People can read your comments and decide for themselves. They won’t agree with you more because you’re passionate about being a moron. I know I won’t. And that you think you’re fair, right and reasonable won’t change anything. Only you give a damn about what you think of you, an important lesson never learned by those obsessed with their own feelz.

        2. se

          “You’re saying the women should suck it up and stop whining. They’re too sensitive, just like Hunt was saying.”

          As I read it, he is saying that blow-everything-out-of-proportion warriors of both genders should get a grip. Regardless of whether you are so super offended cause you are unusually sensitive women or because you feel the need to prove your masculinity by protecting women and assume we are all unusually sensitive.

          Most women understand that 70 years old people tend to have outdated views, occasionally embarrassingly. I know that and hope that once I will be that old, youngsters around me will be less cruel to embarrassing oldies then you are.

          Neither overreacting nor acting irrationally “because need to protect women” is helping equality. You essentially hold the same view of women as he expressed, except that he told that openly why you consider us too weak to hear it. Could you please stop assuming all women are our constantly crying stereotype?

          We are big girls now, we can roll eyes, say ‘old jerk’ and then live our lives and careers exactly as we did before.

          1. SHG Post author

            It gets tedious repeating myself when people keep telling what I said or meant. I’ve long ago lost interest in explaining or re-explaining what is already on the screen. Thanks.

    2. David M.

      It burns!

      1) So? He’s no longer teaching, Remember the second half of the post? The one about teaching?

      2) No. It’s ‘Internet outrage junkies, and those who do as they say, lack perspective.’ And who’s talking about force? Did Mr. G say UCL shouldn’t be free to make bad decisions?

      3) D’oh! That’s not how an appeal to authority works. That’s when you back up an argument using the accomplishments of its originator. Mr. G compared Hunt’s accomplishments to those of his detractors to make a point about their respective contributions to society. He did not do it to back up Hunt’s comments.

  3. Dross

    As is oft the case, the protest reveals more about the offended then about the offender.
    Are the offended so trivial, so little in stature that an off hand comment diminishes them so greatly that this accomplished and internationally known person who has improved the human lot must be drummed out of public life?

    Every offense must be dealt with hyper outrage, at hyper speed with hyper and complete punishment.

    If his Honorary Degree was revoked on such a trivial matter, so unrelated to why he was honored, perhaps it speaks to the value of that honor and the honor of the institution that awarded it.

    All this will do is cause good people to withdraw and leave the public space to the yapping hyenas tearing each other apart.

    A little grace in the public space would go a long way.

    1. SHG Post author

      It speaks to the force of the gender concerns. I wonder whether they would be willing to trade a cure for cancer for punishing an old man for saying something stupid. I’m sure they don’t think about it that way.

      1. Dross

        Honestly I wouldn’t want to give them the option. I’m not sure how they would answer.

        They tire me and I tire of their outrage. I trivialize them and their thoughts.

  4. Peter Orlowicz

    If he had stopped at “it was a joke and a dumb thing to say”, my guess is he might still have a job. It was the follow up sorry-not-sorry statement of “but I really meant what I said” that sunk him. As valuable as his scientific insights might be to the next generation of science students, I can certainly see how the specific views that he espoused could have significant negative effects on the way he treats students or the effectiveness of his teaching. Those seem like reasonable things for a university to consider in evaluating its faculty. I realize there may be a fine line between a heckler’s veto of “our feelz are offended because of what he said” and what happened here, but I do think there is a difference.

    I hope he wasn’t teaching lab classes.

    1. SHG Post author

      I agree that had his apology stopped earlier, it might have changed the outcome. Then again, it might not. So he’s still a jerk, and that’s that?

      1. Peter Orlowicz

        With tongue firmly in cheek, maybe he should still teach, but with a trigger warning at the end of the course description? “Please be advised, this instructor has been known to make sexist remarks, enter at your own risk?”

        1. Turk

          “Please be advised, this instructor has been known to make sexist remarks, enter at your own risk?”

          Wrong trigger warning.

          #distractinglysexy

  5. PJR

    I believe you are missing the point. He didn’t resign because he told a stupidly sexist joke that any sensible person would avoid but because of his non-apology. That was the same “I’m sorry if I offended anyone” nonsense that we hear from every corrupt politician or banker. The actual meaning, which is intended to be clear to everyone, is: I’m right but these morons over here are making a big deal of it so here, I’m sorry, and you are all still wrong. Worse, in his non-apology he reiterated his central point which changed it from a horrid attempt at humor to an actual position statement.

    I’m not a scientist but I am an engineer, specifically a software engineer. I left a job over a decade ago because the boss, a true idiot in a shielded position, was convinced that a while male SE would never be as good as an Asian SE. He was white, by the way, but like most racists or sexists he had his truth and nothing was going to convince him otherwise. Asians made great SEs but they could never do his management job.

    Anecdote, true, but it makes it fairly easy for me to imagine myself in the shoes of a woman, a student, who is going to enter this guy’s lab. If you are an administrator at an educational institution would you really want someone running a lab who has stated that men are so weak that they are helplessly distracted by anything without a Y chromosome or that women are so weak they burst into tears at the slightest criticism? Could you honestly not imagine a similar, and logical, reaction if a renowned law professor suggested that courts should be gender segregated for the same reason?

    Did he believe this when he was doing his best work? Who knows, but it is clear, form his own statements, that he believes it now and it is his current position that should provide the motivation for action.

    1. SHG Post author

      Is that really the point? That whatever contribution he offered society should be lost because his non-apology failed to assuage the feelz of the perpetually outraged? And that’s as it should be because you have your own feelz story?

      1. PJR

        Ok, let’s deal with the “contribution to society” part first. What, other than good work done decades ago is your basis to believe that he has anything left to offer? It seems to be the foundation for your objection to him resigning from one honorary post. As to actual harm, he’s effectively stated that we should drop women from STEM programs, or give them “separate but equal” spaces because they are just so darn emotional and they distract men, the real scientists, from doing the important work of the lab. Which seems more likely to result in a great advance, the work on one man well past his prime or the half of the population he wants disqualified?

        If he had actually apologized and left it at “I can’t tell jokes” I’d agree that this is being blown out of proportion. He didn’t. In his non-apology he stated that he believes these things. His position, especially when his attitudes can do real harm to people needs to be the basis for evaluation, not some canard that he may do great things in the future if only you equality people would let him kick the women out of his lab.

        Just an end-note: understanding the actual harm that a racist or sexist in charge can do is empathy and logic, not “feelz”. But I guess empathy is weak and womanly. Should I go find a crying towel?

        1. SHG Post author

          Yeah, he hasn’t won a Nobel Prize in more than a decade. He’s got nothing. Spare me the feelz. You attribute to yourself “empathy and logic,” because you have deemed his non-apology worthy of throwing him to the lions.

          And you have imputed to me, in an infantile attempt to overcome the flagrant failings of your argument, the pejorative attitude that “empathy is weak and womanly,” after having demonstrated in your last comment that you don’t have a grasp of the logical fallacy of appeal to authority.

          As a representative of the feelz perspective, I think you’ve grossly inflated the value of your position. If that makes you need a crying towel, go for it.

          1. PJR

            Right, you win. Last try at the core point and I will leave your response as the terminal answer:

            His stated position is that women should not be in the labs. Your stated position is that he is a great scientist (true) who will do great things in the future (speculation). My question is whether you believe that his potential future good is more valuable that removing women from the labs.

            1. SHG Post author

              Finally, a better formulation of the issue than before. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. His sexist attitude deserves both a good smack and to be reined in so that he does not create a sexist environment in the lab, chase smart female scientists away or cause a backlash that impairs women from bringing their brilliance to science. And then, we all move forward with both his contributions as well as everyone else’s. Win-win.

    2. David M.

      So burn him, and replace him with… whom? Someone with sensible views on gender and two Nobel Prizes?

  6. Peter Orlowicz

    Sigh. That’ll teach me to read the story, half-write a comment, get interrupted, and then finish the comment without hitting ‘refresh’ and see that multiple people are saying much the same thing. Your honor, I’d like to make a motion to withdraw my statement, please.

  7. Fubar

    At 72 years of age, it’s not clear how many good teaching years he had ahead of him, but for however long he might have shared the scientific voodoo that swirled around in his head, he won’t.

    From the first draft of a new Nobel Committee Pamphlet, “How to avoid career crucifixion by the perpetually outraged”:

    Please refrain from obtuse oratory,
    When not in the laboratory.
    The science-y voodoo
    That she do and you do
    Means you must keep your speech hortatory.

  8. delurking

    So, on average, are women more likely than men to cry when criticized in the workplace?
    Oh, my bad, that question isn’t allowed.

    As for “you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you”, that happens in every workplace, not just science labs. I’ve never worked anywhere that did not recognize that it happens, and have a written policy about how to handle it when it happens, such as transferring people to other departments or something similar.

  9. Turk

    That’s pretty creepy, but reflects mostly on him, and perhaps his social awkwardness, rather than any women in the lab.

    Only some of it was creepy…there are probably lots of people in offices all over the place that can attest to work place affairs and their distractions.

    Identifying an issue is one thing; figuring out solutions is something different.
    #EveryoneDressInAPotatoSack

  10. Robert Davidson

    University College London stated “The title of UCL Honorary Professor is reserved for individuals who are closely linked to one of UCL’s academic departments (or Institutes) and who are from a non-UCL academic/research institution. … It does not carry a salary, and does not ordinarily involve teaching or research at UCL…”

    Students are not being denied access to Hunt’s information, so there is no cause for your concern.

    UCL also stated “UCL was the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms to men, and the university believes that this outcome is compatible with our commitment to gender equality.” Historically UCL has had 32 (not including Hunt’s) affiliated Nobel Laureates – 9 who have won their Nobel’s on or after Hunt’s, including one of the 44 women to ever win a Nobel prize. It has built on the 1878 admission of women to develop a reputation for gender equality in a notoriously sexist field. While it only has one reputation, it has multiple Nobel Laureates on its staff.

    In a hypothetical where students would be affected by the loss of Hunt, the dropoff in quality would only affect the 2-3 graduate students working for Hunt in his specialty.

    1. David M.

      I don’t get why you directed this at SHG. The only people to speculate that Hunt’s been teaching labs have been commenters. All SHG said is that Hunt’s students will suffer, which is true irrespectively of how many he had.

      1. Robert Davidson

        What you say is true for all numbers except 0: the number of students Hunt actually had.

        1. SHG Post author

          No, no, no. You have just bootstrapped your imaginary vision based on a paragraph in a story, without any knowledge whatsoever beyond that (including all of the other implications, impacts, etc., of what happened here, none of which you know anything about), into what you imagine is an actual fact upon which you feel entitled to draw an overarching conclusion.

          No, zero is not “the number of students Hunt actually had.” You have no clue what the number is, what number were effected, how many students he mentored, taught, worked with, advised, etc. This is your delusion talking. You don’t “actually” know anything.

          But don’t let that stop you from expressing yourself.

          1. Robert Davidson

            UCL states he neither teaches nor researches at UCL. He is not a professor (honorary or otherwise) elsewhere. Who is more deluded in this situation: the man who claims he doesn’t have students or the one who claims he does?

            1. SHG Post author

              The man who thinks he actually knows stuff about someone else because he googled him. The man who is still so stuck in a tiny patch of the weeds that he can’t grasp the issue at hand. The man who keeps pushing the same point as if it’s going to be material if he says it enough times. That’s who.

            2. Robert Davidson

              You are correct: the impact on Hunt’s students (whether they exist or not) is but one of the many asymmetrically deleterious effects of the social media response to his jokes and apologies.

              I research before I comment out of respect for the research and knowledge and understanding you embed in your posts. There is also a healthy fear of passing under the harrow for being factually wrong as well as irrelevant.

          2. Robert Davidson

            Never EVER want to be cross examined by you. It took 20 minutes for the fight or flight response to fade.

        2. David M.

          No way. If UCL’s anything like my college, someone’s definitely learning from the retired and honorary professors.

            1. SHG Post author

              null

              I know what a hypothetical is. I also appreciate humorous comments. Tedious comments, not so much.

            2. Robert Davidson

              Intended for Schultz who didn’t understand my first comment. Can’t get enough math humor, especially in easy to understand cartoon form.

    2. SHG Post author

      Haven’t we discussed in the past your difficulties in grasping concepts? There have been other consequences, and whether your obsession with the limited concrete details that obscure your ability to grasp broader applications is accurate or nonsensical cannot be overcome, you should still be able to appreciate that whooshing sound you keep hearing.

      By the way, since this sort of obsessive misguided focus on secondary trivia apparently interests you, what if one of your 2-3 graduate students was to do something extraordinary like cure cancer? That would be kinda unfortunate.

      1. Robert Davidson

        I see your cancer cure and raise you a cure for the common cold: both foiled by Hunt’s laboratory love stunting the prospects of potential Nobel prize winners in his lab.

        As I re-read the post (not for the first time), I see the few sentences spent on the students had an oversize effect on me. God save us all from becoming hashtags.

  11. jay-w

    He did not just make a lame joke; he presented a falsifiable hypothesis.

    He claimed that, when women enter a predominately male, hierarchical organization, productivity suffers. That is a claim that can be proven or dis-proven empirically.

    The fact that so-called “scientists” are resorting to hissy fits and ad-hominem attacks instead of reasoned rebuttal tends to support the old guy’s argument.

    1. SHG Post author

      That is a claim that can be proven or dis-proven empirically.

      It can, but it can’t. Empirical analysis of politically incorrect hypothesis is not allowed.

  12. Richard G. Kopf

    SHG,

    I hope I am not being redundant. Anyway, there is a fascinating article in the New York Times today entitled “Sexist Image of Male Scientists Is Wrong.” It is worth reading.

    The piece is written by Wendy M. Williams, a professor in the department of human development at Cornell and the director of the Cornell Institute for Women in Science. Stephen J. Ceci is the Helen Carr professor of developmental psychology at Cornell University and he served as the coauthor.

    The article recounts the fascinating research findings that these two and others have unearthed regarding sexism and academic science. For example,

    “In 1971, women were less than 1 percent of professors in academic engineering. Today women represent roughly 25 percent of assistant professors, with similar growth in all traditional male domains — physics, chemistry, geosciences, mathematics/computer science and economics. Women in 1973 comprised 15 percent or less of assistant professors in these fields whereas today they constitute 20 percent to 40 percent.

    Women prefer not to major in these fields in college (choosing instead life sciences, premed, animal science, social science or law) and women do not apply as often as men for professorial posts. But when female Ph.D.’s apply for tenure-track jobs they are offered these posts at a higher rate than male competitors. This is not obvious because the majority of both men and women are rejected when they apply for professorial positions. But women are usually hired over men.

    We recently reported results of five national experiments, demonstrating that 872 faculty members employed at 371 universities and colleges strongly preferred, 2 to 1, to hire a female applicant over an identically qualified man. Even when asked to evaluate just one applicant, faculty rated the woman as stronger. We found this pro-female hiring preference in all four fields we studied and it was just as true of women faculty as men faculty.”

    Just sayin’ that some horror stories about sexist scientists may have no or little empirical foundation. All the best.

    RGK

    1. SHG Post author

      There you go again, judge, ruining a good narrative with facts. And I did read that today. You get the Times out there? Do they just drop it out of the plane on the way over? It could really hurt if it lands on somebody. Big liability.

      1. Richard G. Kopf

        SHG,

        Here’s some more facts.

        The damn commies are every where. I can’t walk outside my house without seeing them hiding in the bushes. But, before I can get my rifle from the rack of my pick up, they are gone.

        My recent subscription to the NYT is part of my new plan to protect Amerika. I plan on using the NYT to try to lure those pinko bastards to their deaths by implicitly suggesting that I am a fellow traveler. I’ll keep you advised of my progess. I will even send you a scalp wrapped in bacon if I score a bullseye.

        Over and out. All the best.

        RGK

        1. Turk

          I plan on using the NYT to try to lure those pinko bastards to their deaths by implicitly suggesting that I am a fellow traveler. I’ll keep you advised of my progess. I will even send you a scalp wrapped in bacon if I score a bullseye.

          Oh shit, “true threat.” Here comes the subpoena from Preet Bahrara.

    2. Keith

      That seems to crystallize the issue of reality vs perception. The comments here seem to conflate the general state of gender-bias (in science as well as beyond) with the actions of a particular individual. Gender biases do exist and they might be responsible for the lack of larger number of women entering those fields. But while they certainly play a part, if there’s no indication that gender bias by an individual (like this doc) has resulted in problems in the particular lab, above and beyond what is commonplace, one has nothing more than a general gripe about how recognizing talent and losing long held prejudices should be recognized. Pat yourselves on the back for your forward thinking model.

      Bad jokes are dealt with by hashtags in a much better way than terminations. As satisfying as it may be to many, I fail to see how anything positive comes by putting this guy out to pasture.

      Lord knows that the entire internet yelling at him is sure to help change his attitude.
      /rant

  13. KP

    Well, whether or not he should have exercised his right to free speech, I think he’s right.

    However I would replace “problem” with “pleasure’ for the falling in love part. In fact I’ve found having coworkers in a lab in love with each other adds to the productivity, rather than decreases it. I’ve also found grls more likely to cry when criticisd than boys.

    Still, no matter how true it all might be, bowing down to the political correctness of the day is obviously more important.

  14. Wrongway

    What’s the Prof. talking about is letting personal feelings get in the way.. from either side.. this isn’t law at least in my opinion..

    Have you ever spent too much money on a girl, ‘Knowing’ you couldn’t afford it, & were gonna regret it later ??
    ‘Truth is I can’t afford this’.. actions taken are the opposite.. ‘cuz she’s finer than a new set of snow tires’.. (maybe not my best example but I’ll run with it..) or my wife spends more than expected on groceries cuz ‘it was such a good deal’.. when the car is out of gas.. but that’s my wife.. faults & all..
    what am I supposed to do call 911 ??
    Isn’t that ‘letting personal issues’ get in the way of the ‘truth’ ??

    While you might sanitize a lab of germs, you can’t sanitize it from emotions or egos..

    Show me one person on this planet who’s never picked their nose in public, scratched their crotch, or farted, or said something stupid…. & I’ll show you a liar..

    he’s old & he’s human.. so he said something stupid, who hasn’t ??
    Come on, ……… step up, …

    whatever happened to forgiveness, & tolerance.. ??

  15. IM

    I thank SHG for his efforts to defend men generally (such as keeping Hunt’s comments in perspective, or criticizing Nancy Gertner’s injection of feminism into her public role).

    I wish to point out certain obvious defenses of Hunt which most media have somehow missed:

    1. A number of scientific women, including former students, have defended him; apparently he was helpful to all and entirely properly encouraged and mentored a number of female scientists, including his own wife.

    2. He met his wife in the lab, and fell in love with her, and she with him. His comment therefore probably originated as a somewhat public “private joke” between himself and his wife, as if to say, “Honey, maybe men and women should be separated in the lab; look what happened to us.”

    3. He did not (even facetiously) propose taking anything away from women; he simply mused whether some separation would be positive; after all, teens have been shown to perform better when sex-segregated.

    4. UCL maintains sex-segregated campuses in the Arab world. It’s thus hypocritical for the same UCL to force Hunt to resign for a simple facetious comment, when he has in no way mis-behaved nor committed any discriminatory act. Indeed, his academic freedom of speech has been infringed.

    5. Finally, nearly simultaneously, Goldsmith’s official Bahar Mustafa has tweeted the far more malicious “#killallwhitemen” without harm to her career.

    All of the above certainly lend some credence to the contention that third-wave feminism has devolved into a movement dangerous to human rights..

    1. SHG Post author

      Don’t thank me, as I don’t defend men. I defend people. Neo-feminism is bent on undermining the constitutional rights of all, men and women, of every political stripe. And I defend people with a sense of humor because

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