No. 118 (essentialsaltes) wrote,
No. 118

Pervy jerks in (and some out of) the skeptical movement

There's been quite the confluence of events. Buzzfeed (don't laugh) ran a deeply researched article about Lawrence Krauss and a number of sexual allegations against him. None violent, but sleazy. Apparently enough to warrant being banned from a couple campuses where he used to work. While I was dimmmmmly aware, for me it was basically internet gossip about someone I don't really know.

I found the article convincing, and icky enough that it bothered me that I remembered that Krauss was a fellow of CSI (nee CSICOP). And I went to the trouble of checking their page of fellows to be sure.

And there are two things that probably made that association leap to my mind. Number one, another Fellow is Benjamin Radford, and he too has been associated with some similar accusations (starting from incidents after a consensual relationship turned sour). Again, I am not the insider here, but I gather that Barry Karr [or maybe Ron Lindsay -- like I said, I'm not an insider] made an investigation, meted out some punishment, and I don't know the ins and outs, other than to say that Radford is still a Fellow, as is his most noteworthy accuser (from where I sit, not being close to any of this). So I feel confident that something was done with at least some semblance of justice. But the episode also pulled additional anonymous whispers out of the ether.

The second thing that probably kept it fresh in my mind was that the latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer noted that Susan Gerbic had been made a Fellow. This was surprising, because most of the Fellows are members of the professoriate in disciplines from physics to psychology. And Susan runs the guerrilla skeptics on wikipedia. I mean, if done right, obviously it's to everyone's benefit for Wikipedia to be accurate, and credulous viewpoints need to be countered by skeptical ones. But...

#1: my brief foray into Wikipedia editing convinced me that it takes a certain kind of person to enjoy and win the Wikipedia editing game. And it isn't me. And I'm vaguely suspicious of the people who find themselves at home in that environment.
#2: Susan's common appearances on the Skepticality podcast did not impress me favorably. In addition to her stated work to push an agenda, it was clear she was also generally a shill for conferences and meetings, etc. Some of the things that pushed me away from greater involvement in organized skepticism (it was not enough that I volunteered to be part of the Independent Investigations Group (an organization I helped name) but to stay in, one would be required to take classes for money -- fuck that).
#3: In short, rather than a skeptic, she strikes me more as a True Believer. Our side is right, and this justifies almost anything.
#4: More recently, I see that Susan is essentially defending Radford on his Wiki page (see the Talk) to keep the page clean of talk of the accusation. Now I don't know that it's notable or meets Wikipedia's standards, but it does bother me that it seems that the truth is less important than defending the people in one's camp.

Anyhoo, this had me thinking about CSI having two fairly well documented pervs among its Fellows (and I wasn't so hot about the merger between CFI and the Dawkins Foundation). And so for a long time (when I only knew of one perv) I was reconsidering the bequest in my will to CSICOP. And now there were (at least) two pervs. Now when you look at the list... there are a lot of people I admire, from Susan Blackmore to Daniel Dennett to EC Krupp to Joe Nickell to Bob Park to Eugenie Scott. Maybe two bad eggs isn't too bad a proportion? On the other hand, there's more than enough star power that I really wish they'd get rid of any bad eggs. After appropriate scrutiny.

And then my stepdad died last week. And I read through his will. And I thought a lot more about my own.

And then a miracle... Lawrence Krauss was (at least temporarily) un-Fellowed from CSI. And I note that between looking at the CSI Fellows page a few days ago and now, Susan Gerbic has also vanished from the list, shortly after arriving. This I assume(?) is at her behest.

So we're back down to one perv (that has come to my attention) who served metaphorical time for one incident. All cool?

(Thank lackofgod that pervy Mike Shermer has an entirely separate Skeptic organization for me to shun. It's true, I shunned him for being dumb long before I knew about any pervy accusations, but every little bit helps. Also a shame that James Randi (who gave his name to yet a third skeptic organization) turned a blind eye to Shermer being 'a bad boy on occasion'.)

Seems like I'm down on all the skeptical organizations, but hey it's just some of the people and the organizations that suck. Not the ideas or the truth of the matter. And possibly CFI/CSI has taken a small step to suck less... and can stay in my will.
Tags: #1, #2, #3, #4, anger, blog, death, malebutnotnarrow, money, sex, skepticism

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