Sunday, October 25, 2015

Reducing Geoff Marcy-type behavior in climatology

UPDATE:  this also about online harassment and the failure to address it.


One of my fan-boy science interests is anything to do with people digging bones out of the ground to learn stuff. I never completely forgot the childhood desire of a geeky kid to be a paleontologist, and as an adult I'm still amazed with field anthropology and the science of human origins.

And so there's a quite a contrast between that idealistic view of the science and what I learned in recent years, that women in this fascinating work were routinely betrayed and harassed by their superiors, instead of supported by them. Fieldwork was an opportunity to isolate women students and early-career academics, and prey on them.

That bring us to another fan-boy science interest of mine, astronomy and exoplanets. A giant of that area, Geoff Marcy, harmed the career of women academics, harmed the progress of exoplanet science by driving them away from the field, and finally torpedoed his own career and reputation.

A very sad story, well-known by this time, but of course Marcy isn't the only one. Female astronomers it turns out knew both about his reputation and about other astronomers, learning they needed to share this information with each other to know who to avoid.

One of my favorite podcasts is The Weekly Space Hangout, and last week dealt with all this. The reason why I'm rehashing all this bad news is that there's some good as well. In the Hangout, the women are saying that men in their field are asking what's going on, who are the problem academics, and asking what needs to be done. Maybe astronomy can clean up its act.

So then there's climatology - I'm not an academic and don't know about harassment problems in this area, but there's way too many people involved for it not to happen, and the harassment finding against the former head of the IPCC isn't encouraging, even considering that Pachauri wasn't a climatologist.

What I hope is that there are enough people - women and men - in positions of authority to act against harassment in climatology. Hopefully they can draw a lesson from what they're learning in astronomy, and that junior academics and undergrads can go to more senior ones, knowing they'll get a response.

One other suggestion from Michael O'Hare at Same Facts is relevant:

What went so wrong here, and who are the authors of this episode? Simple: there were many moments at least a decade ago when some members of the astronomy faculty, perhaps clued in by students, were aware that they were harboring a ticking bomb. That was when a chair or dean, or maybe just a peer pal, should have taken Marcy aside and drawn a diagram:

Everyone knows what you are doing. You have to stop, now, forever, because you are damaging not just these young women but all of us and yourself as well. If you don’t, here are a series of things that will happen to you, in sequence of increasing severity, and to show how serious this is, I expect you to ask for an unpaid leave from teaching next semester. That’s half your pay. Next step will be to inform the department of the reasons, and so on.
Instead, one after another of his friends and colleagues decided that it was more important to avoid an awkward moment than to (i) try to save their friend from a suicidal path (ii) protect their young colleagues.

Pachauri was bad enough. Let's hope it stops.

35 comments:

Russell Seitz said...

What a bunch of sissies-- academcs acting as though he was tossing carrots.

Blogger profile said...

Here's your problem, Eli.

By segmenting and assigning blame unearned and unwarranted amongst a whole 50% (nearly) of the population, you will alienate most of the people you wish to reach.

And even more so when this happens:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3260279/Babysitter-sex-11-year-old-escapes-jail.html

and there is no discussion about reducing this sort of child rape in the babysitter community.

Because it shows that only men as a group are responsible for the actions of their group (much like anti-muslim tirades never applying to Christians when one of their kind does some murdering or terrorising, it's never because of Christianity then, and no Christian is asked to apologise for it).

When one of your children breaks something by running round the house, do you blame ALL your children for breaking things and say "This sort of thing needs to stop!"? No, you explain to ALL your children that "this is why we don't run round the house". NOT blame them, but blame the accident on the one who did it and remind others that when you run around the house you can break stuff.

You don't accuse ALL children of being vandals.

Macey probably thought it was fine because they got away with it. And many advances were not rebuffed (some may have been because he is quite fit, and intelligent, and important and an authority figure, all aphrodisiacal, some because people were afraid to rebuff in case they lost grades).

So tell students that they can ask to leave their tutorship because of harassment. Tell students that if they even feel merely uncomfortable, they are to say so, else how is anyone else to know how they FEEL?

Of course, "Stop victim blaming!" is used to deflect any and all responsibility and autonomy from those feeling harassed. But if they have no agency, surely you're making them merely object, to be acted upon only. Objectifying others is bad. Why is objectifying yourself, or, IMO worse, objectifying victims, OK?

How does the predatory sexual practice of academia and the size of the problem compare to, say, professional american football? Or the nursing industry (to take a female dominated industry, where you will find some horror stories of harassment from the few men in there if you think to ask)?

It it an academia problem, or a human one?

If the former, prove it.

At least here you say "reduced". But how do you know when it's reduced when you point to one case and then say, without evidence or context, that it's a big problem?

And if we don't allow that both sides may be right, but the perception of one is worthy of accommodation, that accommodation of that situation IS NOT blaming the other for it, then we scare off people from being in that situation and you lose out on talent applying for the job.

MGTOW is one reaction to the presumption of guilt for men, and the lack of change for social norms for men, yet the huge change for women's social standing (and justified, almost entirely, I might add). Without any right but the right to be blamed, men are going their own way and giving up on social interaction with women as female humans because there's far far more risk than reward, and only the chance of being accused of some heinous crime and demonised for it to look forward to.

I suspect that many of these men are the sort of people who, if they were female, would be worried about men stalking them, men objectifying them, men (like Macey) willing to grade your work badly if you don't put out for them, men being sexual predators, murderers and dangerous at any and every point. The sort who think that "Tell men not to rape" is actually useful.

In other words, the same sort of person that you are trying to get included more by getting the Maceys of academia removed and unable to occur again.

In short, TWO groups of people need to be reminded of the situation. The students as well as the professors.

Blogger profile said...

Something else to remember, especially given that academic position is often a position earned only after decades of working in the field, therefore an old man's game, is that sexual harassment used to be what was demanded.

Workshop owners (male) who did NOT demand sexual favours from their female workers were considered by those female workers to be too weak and simple to be respected.

But think about it. That's precisely what we do in nature, isn't it. Monkeys and apes screw those with higher social power. Our tribal (and barbarian) past was built on that power structure pyramid (partly to enforce the life-risking activities that helped the group at the expense of the individual). It is entirely natural.


And our civilised culture is the mix of both tribal and barbarian societies, so no wonder through most of the 20th Century, the boss banging the secretary was a "known secret".

Private diaries have indicated that some factory owners HATED the role, but found they were unable to manage the company without engaging in widespread sexual predation on their staff, and did it under duress.

But we have a changing society now. The face of society, though, is ALWAYS the latest cutting edge, ALWAYS ahead of most of the people who live in it (see Shakespeare's poems and compare it to the reality he would have seen IN that society outside his own window).

Marcy is holding back society from changing. But his existence isn't solely his fault. It's that we base the face of society on the newest trend, with the least occupancy, and it leaves many people behind. And prefers to demonise them rather than guide them on to the latest view. After all, conflict is *interesting*, whereas discussion is *boring*.

As to his colleagues reticence, look to how police work with domestics. They generally don't get involved because they have frequently turned up to a dispute, manhandled the bloke (almost invariably the bloke) and been beaten up and abused by the woman for interfering or assaulting her husband.

We don't expect authority to be alpha-male types. We expect them to comport themselves with dignity of the position of authority. We need to explain this change explicitly, without blame.

Victor Venema said...

Eli, what does BP have to write to get banned? It makes your blog a lot less attractive.

neverendingaudit said...

> Here's your problem, Eli.

Here's your problem, Profile.

This is Brian's post.

As ever, thank you for your concerns.

Fernando Leanme said...

The overall problem is ABUSE OF AuTHORITY. This is applied to harass females, and to allow fraud and financial shenanigans. I've also seen it during research project budget allocation, as well as who gets to travel to conferences, be main author, and so on.

afeman said...

Seconding Victor.

Bryson said...

Douglas Adams had a good take on this sort of thing: for too many people, this phenomenon is surrounded by a field of 'someone else's problem'. As we increasingly recognize that it's everyone's problem and act on that fact, we can reduce and its impacts, and deal more effectively with those unwilling to behave like reasonable human beings. (BTW, presumptions of collective guilt are not in the air here, and anyone who thinks they are has a pretty silly chip on their shoulder-- but it is also a fact that far too many have looked the other way for far too long, and that's a large part of the problem.)

EliRabett said...

The policy of RR has always been to let blowhards blow themselves out, only stepping in when norms of behavior go beyond posted limits (Eli has a secret list). Hate to lose that.

Brian said...

Vicor and afeman - if you read the comments in a separate window by clicking on the "Comment" link at the bottom, you can killfile the comment of any commenter you think isn't adding value - just click on the word "said" after the commenter's name. Takes a half a second but is faster than groaning your way through something useless.

Eli, John and I have to at least skim comments for rule violations (mainly obscenities and threats) but no one else has to put up with that. An acerbic response is also valuable but not required.

Blogger profile said...

" Seconding Victor."

Try having your own thoughts. You may get a better quality than Vic has managed.

You know, one which actually SAYS something, rather than just a content-free whinge.

Blogger profile said...

"Douglas Adams had a good take on this sort of thing: for too many people, this phenomenon is surrounded by a field of 'someone else's problem'."

Well, there's also the possibility that you investigate, find nothing, and then someone else complains and you get implicated in it as a partisan helper.

SEP happens with violence on the street too. And muggings. Everyone assumes someone else will call the police, and walk on. And nobody calls the police.

Blogger profile said...

Brian/Eli, (and vic and af), do you have any actual complaint?

If so, elucidate.

Brian said...

I'm probably wasting time here, but BP, instead of arguing with me or any of the other men on this comment thread, I think it would be much better if you listened to what women in the field had to say about this. If nothing else, then listen to the women at the hangout I linked to. It's pretty depressing to hear them say they expect to receive rape threats as a result of of them discussing harassment.

I suggest doing that is more important than any deep thoughts you or I may have on this issue.

Blogger profile said...

So you haven't anything, Brian.

"It's pretty depressing to hear them say they expect to receive rape threats as a result of of them discussing harassment."

Nothing, really, to do with my comment, is it.

I mean, yes it is depressing that they expect it.

It's worse when their expectations are fulfilled.

But it really doesn't have anything to do with my post.

So you don't want to say, can't say, or really don't understand my post. The latter is somewhat indicated by your description of it as "arguing with the me or the other men".

90% or more wasn't anything even approaching an arguing sort of argument.

Chris_Winter said...

Blogger profile: Try having your own thoughts. You may get a better quality than Vic has managed.

You know, one which actually SAYS something, rather than just a content-free whinge.


Speaking of content-free whinges, yours takes the cake in that category. Your poor command of grammar and syntax makes it difficult to parse out what you're trying to say. For example:

"And if we don't allow that both sides may be right, but the perception of one is worthy of accommodation, that accommodation of that situation IS NOT blaming the other for it, then we scare off people from being in that situation and you lose out on talent applying for the job."

In short, you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

What's your assessment? Have I actually SAID something here?

Russell Seitz said...

Fra from being a blowhard , BP is a celebrated vorgon poetess

thelostcityofcarcosa.com said...

If BP is a poet, then its time their large intestine made an intervention.

Blogger profile said...

"Speaking of content-free whinges, yours takes the cake in that category"

Nope. Sorry, not buying that. Got anything else to sell on the "moonbeams and fiction" category?

"In short, you don't know what the hell you're talking about."

In short, quoting what I say and then saying "you don't know what the hell you're talking about" indicate you have no idea what you're trying to prove,so are trying blank assertion instead.

Why not just admit it: you're incandescent with rage because I'm not blaming everyone carte blanche for the crimes of sexual predators. And you don't know how to say how that is wrong without coming across as a sexist bigot without an ounce of empathy.

Because that's your problem isn't it?

Blogger profile said...

Ah, the insane dribble of the advanced alzheimer sufferer. How are you, Rustle? And I see you brought a ward compatriot with you!

How do you do? Getting on well. Treating you right. Hospital food isn't very good, is it.

neverendingaudit said...

> So you haven't anything [...]

Gamersgate freedom fighting usually don't deserve a response, Profile, but beware your wishes.

I'd start with pointing out that your concern that "by segmenting and assigning blame unearned and unwarranted amongst a whole 50% [...]" is a strawman. Then there's this beautiful counterfactual "I suspect that many of these men are the sort of people who, if they were female [...]."

A link to these "private diaries" would also be nice.

Blogger profile said...

"Gamersgate freedom fighting usually don't deserve a response"

Ah, so that is why they get 10 bomb threats to shut down the venue they speak at, then. http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/08/15/gamergate-event-evacuated-after-multiple-bomb-threats/

Oh, and this isn't about GG.

And I guess that saves you the bother of giving a reason for someone to change their mind, just bully them into accepting your word as law.

Which is nice.


"I'd start with pointing out that your concern that "by segmenting and assigning blame unearned and unwarranted amongst a whole 50% [...]" is a strawman"

I'd start by telling you to look up the word "summation".

"Then there's this beautiful counterfactual "I suspect that many of these men are the sort of people who, if they were female [...].""

I'd then point you to the dictionary definition of "empathy", and the existence of thought experiments.

Yet it seems I was unfortunately right in my expectation.

A lot of disagreement TO me, and nothing actually to agree with if I were to find myself wrong. Just "YOU MONSTER for saying that!". But nothing showing what the evidence for the shock and outrage is.

Even a puppy who has shat on the carpet gets its nose rubbed into the carpet to indicate what, precisely, the problem activity was.

But as I said in the beginning, not making any claim, just dismay, is a great way to not to have to justify your outrage, leaving your emotions unexamined and "justified".

Here's a little homily, which you should be able to swallow since it panders to your socially ingrained blank assertions:

"Consciousness expanding". The whole "ChairPERSON, not ChairMAN" thing, NEVER made sense to me. Oddly, Richard Dawkins clued me in on why it makes a difference. Because you may unconsciously be thinking that a Chairman has to be a MAN and use the term.

I had never pictured a person in that role, and when it was pointed to the person in a chairman role, if it was male, I saw male, if it was female, I saw female.

BUT IT IS STILL A GOOD THING to check your own preconceptions to see if they are ossifying or unthinking.

So I changed my mind about it.

I STILL think you shouldn't really CARE if they say chairman. And if the position is being talked about, calling it "the chair" is entirely supported by current usage, and genuinely the only cogent method (the person in the position is irrelevant, they speak for the position, not themselves). But you should stop every now and then and look again at the internal monologue to check your biases.

However, your various undirected and inexplicable rages are just such a bias and bigotry. And you won't look. Because you'd feel you would feel ashamed if you thought any different.

Just like some chairmen thought themselves emasculated by being told not to say ChairMAN, but Chairperson.

And it's just as mentally damaging.

neverendingaudit said...

> this isn't about GG.

The same cheap concerns are being made in that context.

***

> I guess that saves you the bother of giving a reason for someone to change their mind [...]

I don't think strawmaning Brian (or is it Eli?) will change anyone's mind.

***

> I'd start by telling you to look up the word "summation".

That would not be enough to warrant the claim that Brian is "segmenting or assigning blame unearned and unwarranted amongst a whole 50%." It's far from a paraphrase of What I hope is that there are enough people - women and men - in positions of authority to act against harassment in climatology.

This concern of yours is simply not implied by anything Brian said. Which means Brian's (not Eli's) post triggered your pet stuff.

***

> Just like some chairmen thought themselves emasculated by being told not to say ChairMAN, but Chairperson.

Was it before or after they took the red pill?


***

> Yet it seems I was unfortunately right in my expectation.

The world conspires to confirm your prejudices, Profile.

Blogger profile said...

"The same cheap concerns are being made in that context."

!

Cheap concerns, eh? So can I just claim this entire ATL thread is about a cheap concern?

Done.

So anything else in the bilge you wrote? Just for giggles...


"This concern of yours is simply not implied by anything Brian said."

'In the Hangout, the women are saying that men in their field are asking what's going on, who are the problem academics, and asking what needs to be done. Maybe astronomy can clean up its act.'

'Pachauri was bad enough. Let's hope it stops. '

'because you are damaging not just these *young women*'

In the land of the one-quote mine, the three-quote man is king...

"Was it before or after they took the red pill?"

Ah, so there isn't and never has been a campaign to remove male gendered terms like chairman...

Or you're a bloody idiot.

It's the latter, isn't it?

Those aren't pills. They're smarties. Stop taking the smarties and thinking you're stoned. You're just an idiot.


"The world conspires to confirm your prejudices, Profile."

The world conspires to confirm yours, too, neverneedanaudit. Men: evil bastards. Women: innocent and needing protection. YOUR protection. How do we know it's yours? Because you HATE those monster men. Grrrrr. I will protect you, ladies! Totally not needing to bonk, either, just your adulation will suffice.

Much is complained about the object/subject dichotomy.

Funny thing is, the whole "don't tell women what to wear" is insisting they are objects, unable to do anything to protect themselves. They need Authority to do so. So give up all your thinking, and give your power to the Authority, who will totally protect you, because you are not supposed to do anything, just sit there and let you be protected from those would would molest you, you passive object you!

Blogger profile said...

Oh, and never, why not pop along to where Brian asked me to go and tell them that same quip you think is such a humdinger: "The world conspires to confirm your prejudices, ladies"

See how well it works against your "side".

neverendingaudit said...

> Cheap concerns, eh?

Indeed they are, dear Profile. First, they're based on a strawman, since it addresses nothing in what Brian. Second, they have nothing to do with the Marcy and Pachauri cases or with harassment in scientific academia. Third, they are mere concerns, which contrast with issues.

But yeah, please do continue to issue concerns about how Brian ought to communicate. It warms the heart to see so much empathy at work.

***

> 'In the Hangout, the women are saying that men in their field are asking what's going on, who are the problem academics, and asking what needs to be done. Maybe astronomy can clean up its act.' 'Pachauri was bad enough. Let's hope it stops.' 'because you are damaging not just these *young women*'

These quotes do not substantiate that Brian is "segmenting and assigning blame unearned and unwarranted amongst a whole 50% (nearly) of the population". The first two clearly identify the referent (problem academics and Pachauri) while the third contradicts the claim that Brian is alienating men: we, men, have everything to gain by cleaning up our own mess.

No, Profile, expressing concerns about the C word and handwaving to private diaries do not count. Quite the opposite, if you ask me.

***

> [T]here isn't and never has been a campaign to remove male gendered terms like chairman...

Pray tell us how chairmen around the world feel humiliated by that, Profile. That's way more important than to address harassment issues. Use menz rights as a shield if you please.

***

> Those aren't pills. They're smarties.

Search for "red piller" for more on that reference.

***

> Men: evil bastards. Women: innocent and needing protection. YOUR protection. How do we know it's yours? Because you HATE those monster men. Grrrrr. I will protect you, ladies!

Again with the strawman, and already with the whiteknighting trope.

I hope you do realize you're not inventing anything here, Profile.

EliRabett said...

w/o comment because none is needed

https://the-cauldron.com/sxsw-s-astounding-ideals-of-cowardice-871764d3eb45#.fppxt622h

Russell Seitz said...

" you're incandescent with rage because I'm not blaming everyone carte blanche for the crimes of sexual predators. And you don't know how to say how that is wrong without coming across as a sexist bigot without an ounce of empathy.

Because that's your problem isn't it?"


Try attaching more lithium batteries to your shield rim before you chew on it.

Blogger profile said...

"Indeed they are, dear Profile."

OK, so you're a retard. Fair enough.

You're so full of hate for anyone not blindly obedient to your "righteous cause" you really don't care what happens to anyone not on your side.

So far, all I've had back on why I'm wrong is about "50% of the population", which is not supported by ALL the text ATL, but is supported by more than it is rejected by.

Apart from that, NOTHING about what shows I don't know anything, nothing about what I *ought* to know instead.

Just blind hate.

Against me and anyone who gets death, rape and bomb threats to shut them up and make them scared if they don't happen to be female.

Proving that only women should be protected, men should all be killed.

This is just as much a fundamentalist religious war as any promulgated by the rabid christian in the USA or the ISIS "warrior", just fought for the personal pride of white knights, but fought with as little consideration for the acts they take in "the holy crusade" as they, because the ends justify the means, no matter if those means would never gain the ends intended.

Truly, this jihad is the jihad for the secularists, the ones who find no justification for their heinous acts and thoughts in the fairy tale of a sky fairy, therefore turn to the fairy tale of the innocent damsel in distress.

There are fewer differences between men and women than men think, true enough. There are fewer differences between women and men than women hope, though.

Oh, and Rustle, get the station nurse to check your colostomy bag. Your post has just filled it with material that should not be there.

I will end it on this note:

Nowhere has there been more pinpointed avoidance of evidence than in WUWT when you were presented with how we don't blame an entire industry for what one member of it does, even when it is WORSE than what Marcy did (these ARE adults, after all, not children). Or death threats against GG members are "Cheap diversions". But if the victim were to have tits...! NO YOU CANNOT IGNORE THIS TRAVESTY!!! Adults coerced into sex, by a man, TERRIBLE!!! Child coerced into sex by a woman? Ignored. Death threats to Sarkesian, invite to talk to the UN about getting criticism banned because it's harassment. Death threats to a male geek gamer? It's irrelevant.

Frankly, you men sicken me more than the feminists trucking in the money with this victim scam.

Blogger profile said...

Oh, brian, don't come back to me with "that's just whataboutery". At what point do we get to talk about the injustices faced by the "privileged" who don't have any money, power or privilege, but share a few minor genetic similarities with some who do?

It's no better a reason to ignore than the NRA's attempts to shut down gun control talk because "it's too soon" after some tragedy.

We are supposed to be talking equality. Justice. Fairness. Segmenting them for application to certain groups means you have broken them all.

neverendingaudit said...

> Apart from that, NOTHING

One thing at a time, Profile, and the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. The main thing is your strawman, and it's important we are clear about it first.

Otherwise it ends in a food fight. Unless that's why you're starting to hurl the H word?

***

Here would be another way to see that your menz rights drama queening is a strawman. Brian's "clean up act" wish is directed at institutions, i.e. "enough people - women and men - in positions of authority." The harassment issue needs to be addressed by everyone, including menz. Considering that those in positions of authority are mostly men, it should be obvious that Brian does not "segment or assign blame" to everyone.

This is also where your children analogy breaks down: those who run institutions have collective responsibilities, while kids don't.

Blogger profile said...

of course, there are other problems with professors dictating activities to their students:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/10/26/dispute-required-math-textbook-escalates-broader-debate-about-costs-and-academic

EliRabett said...


BP, you are well behind the times on Rabett Rants

Blogger profile said...

Figure you'd be up on this. It's not like this is a *new* problem in academia.

Sold at cost would solve many of these issues. It's not like professors don't get expected to put in free unpaid time on assessing papers et al, so it's not like they'd be doing something damnably unorthodox working in the changes to their subject into a new course book for buck-shee.

And it's not like universities can't run a publishing arm too.

Blogger profile said...

Nothing about the need to do something about this sort of rape, I note:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDDuQQEnGa4

Is that because they're jocks, and who cares what happens to them? Or is it because they're jocks, they're supposed to rape, so "ha ha!" when they get raped? Or is it because it's a woman doing it? Or is it because it's not her but her daughter, so it's rape-by-Munchausen? Or just they're not "one of us" so we don't get to say that they need to clean up their act and change their methods so this sort of thing stops, because that would be accusing another, and that's not nice?