Live by the Tweet, Die by the Tweet!
Mark Twain once wrote that “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
In the age of the internet, that saying should be updated to “three times around the world”, as is evidenced by the story behind the resignation of a British scientist.
I recently reported that Dr. Tim Hunt, a Nobel-prizing winning physiologist, a British knight, and a leading advocate for science education that is usually promoted by women’s rights activists, made a lame joke about single-sex labs. His punishment in the wake of a vicious social justice campaign was his forced resignation from the University College London.
New revelations about the speech and the context of the joke have surfaced. An account of a European Commission Official who took detailed minutes of the event adds key information absent from the original report:
According to the new account, Sir Tim started with: “It’s strange that such a chauvinist monster like me has been asked to speak to women scientists,” which makes clear he mocking sexism, rather than indulging in it. St. Louis reported this as Hunt simply admitting: “he has a reputation as a male chauvinist.”
Immediately after the now infamous joke, according to the new evidence, he proceeded to make several very pro gender equality remarks, including: “Now seriously… Science needs women and you should do science despite all the obstacles, and despite monsters like me,” which was similarly disregarded in St. Louis’s twitter report.
Hunt has already protested that he added, “now seriously” to indicate the joke was over.
This new data comports with science education advocacy mission that had been part of Hunt’s work until this incident.
Why, then, was this critical bit left on the cutting room floor from the original report? To answer that question, real investigative journalists at the Daily Mail began doing work reporters used to do — checking the background on the author of the original complaint about Hunt’s speech.
… [W]ho exactly is Connie St Louis? And why, exactly, should we trust her word over that of a Nobel laureate?
A good place to start is the website of London’s City University, where St Louis has, for more than a decade, been employed to run a postgraduate course in science journalism.
Here, on a page outlining her CV, she is described as follows:
‘Connie St Louis . . . is an award-winning freelance broadcaster, journalist, writer and scientist.
‘She presents and produces a range of programmes for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service . . . She writes for numerous outlets, including The Independent, Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, BBC On Air magazine and BBC Online.’
All very prestigious. Comforting, no doubt, for potential students considering whether to devote a year of their lives (and money) to completing an MA course under her stewardship. Except, that is for one small detail: almost all of these supposed ‘facts’ appear to be untrue.
For one thing, Connie St Louis does not ‘present and produce’ a range of programmes for Radio 4.
Her most recent work for the station, a documentary about pharmaceuticals called The Magic Bullet, was broadcast in October 2007.
For another, it’s demonstrably false to say she ‘writes’ for The Independent, Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.
The investigative piece found even more fascinating material on St. Louis (emphasis, mine):
…Her work for The Guardian appears to consist of two online articles: one published in 2013; the other, about the Sir Tim Hunt affair, went live (online) this week.
Curiously, that 1,000-word piece, in which St Louis recalled the scandal, was heavily edited after publication. Around 30 changes, some of them significant, were made to it. In an apparent contradiction of usual Guardian policy, the version now running online contains no disclaimer detailing this fact.
Elsewhere on the City University web page, readers are led to believe that St Louis has either become, or is soon to become, a published author.
‘She is a recipient of the prestigious Joseph Rowntree Journalist Fellowship to write a book based on her acclaimed two-part Radio 4 documentary series, Raising Ham,’ it reads.
But that is not the full story. In 2005, St Louis did, indeed, receive the liberal organisation’s ‘fellowship’. She was given £50,000, which was supposed to support her while she wrote the book in question.
However, no book was ever published. Or, indeed, written. An entire decade later, the project remains a work in progress.
Additionally, comments from conference participants have been to surface that support Hunt’s original assertions:
— Cathy Young (@CathyYoung63) June 27, 2015
However, St. Louis has her social justice defenders:
…so I felt compelled to respond.
Frankly, based on the evidence, I’m gonna go with the unnamed source! https://t.co/HTJNtw48p1
— Leslie Eastman (@Mutnodjmet) June 28, 2015
I will also note that given how brutally Hunt was treated in social media, and the consequences to his career, it is little wonder the sources wishes to remain unnamed.
There are demands that Hunt’s critics apologize. However, the talented scientists is still out of a job.
I would suggest an American institution add him to its faculty—and promote the fact that it is creating a “safe zone” to protect men (both students and faculty) from unsubstantiated claims made by deluded feminist activists. Given the plunging enrollment for colleges around the country, it may find itself in the happy position of having more applicants than it can handle.DONATE
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