This week I wrote an earlier post just when I noticed the conversation on Twitter about Nature Senior Editor Henry Gee revealing the pseudonym of science blogger DrIsis and calling her #inconsequential (which, to be fair, might have been a Dr Evil reference). She's a young Latina researcher who may be on an unrelated job hunt. I've updated the original post a few times, but more than 3 updates starts to look obnoxious, so this is for those who remain interested. Please remember that I am not a Scientist, a journalist or any other kind of "ist,"* just someone who gets way too sucked into Twitter War.
Upon receiving tweets from Dr. Isis supporters, Gee replied with a cryptic comment about adding them to the "list," which was the shovel that deepened the hole he was energetically digging.
Several other science bloggers excoriated Gee's actions while noting that they had been on the stinging end of Isis's lash. Some characterized her as a bully. In the comments, anonymous commenters (and Gee himself) darkly and obscurely reference terrible behavior on her part without saying what exactly she's supposed to have done. Which I find unsettling. If you are upset enough to reveal her name, why not say what exactly makes her so awful? The most specific things I saw were textbook false equivalence: that DrIsis should be doxxed because she called for people to doxx the Biology Online editor who anonymously insulted DNLee and because she wrote in blog about sexist shit a scientist wrote in his Facebook page —her comments were based on other people's blogging.
But they definitely have a history: she has absolutely condemned him in strong language over a misogynist piece of fiction and sexist letter to the editor published in Nature (which people connected to some behind the scenes work by him). She also called him the antichrist and revealed his seriously bad behavior at a conference THAT A MAN WITNESSED, so it's real yo.
Others discovered that Gee had created and edited his own Wikipedia page (a big no- no), but it turned out to be handy because someone could then make sure it contained an account of his fuckery.
Gee deleted his Twitter account (although some are hinting that he has another sock puppet one) and issued a pseudanonymous apology to Dr. Isis in which he accused her of a long campaign of cyberbullying:
Since 2010, Dr Isis has, in my opinion, waged a campaign of cyberbullying against me. I do not feel it appropriate to rake over the history of this situation, but throughout it I have been subject to unfair personal criticism including the repeated unjust assertion that I am sexist. This is untrue and is an allegation I find deeply distressing. I do not think that anyone deserves to be personally and publicly attacked in this way. As an editor and member of the online community I am absolutely up for a robust debate, but this went far beyond what I feel is acceptable.
In my own case, Dr Isis' attacks contributed to a deepening of my long-running depression to the extent that I required time off and medical intervention. Through all this, however, I have maintained a degree of silence over this, even though Dr Isis' true identity has long been known to me.
I don't want to sound callous to people who are suffering from depression, but this has the strong stench of bullshit. The barbs of an obviously young, institutionally powerless female blogger are what drove you to take a medical leave? We are going to call this Hugo Schwyzer Syndrome. This tweet just about sums it up:
Nature has put up a weak ass press release, not naming him (but giving her blog name), distancing themselves from his tweets, and reassuring its readers that anonymity is highly prized within the hallowed halls of Nature itself. They are also "really pleased" that he apologized. If I were a woman in the sciences (which thank dog for myself and Science, I am not), there is no way this statement reassures me that my work will be reviewed fairly.
Here's an open letter from a Women in Academia blog on why that approach stinks.
Because the internet exists, someone has already fixed both Gee's and Nature's statements. ETA: Blogger Zuska calls the Gee letter "a discourse controlling tour de force" which is the best phrase ever.
ETA2: Drugmonkey has another great piece tweeted by DrIsis (TW as it discusses domestic violence): "I'm sorry . . . but you brought this on yourself honey."
I'm wondering if professional societies are going to start having omsbudspersons who will adjudicate bad behavior online and IRL.
*Maybe a DoctorWho-ist