Biology-Online.org, "Urban Whores," And The Many Axes Of Douchebaggery

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103 Responses

  1. Clark says:

    > The Aristocrats!

    GENIUS.

  2. I recall a previous post (perhaps I misrecall it?) where Ken or one of the Popehat crew wondered about the ineptitude of these solicitations and compared one to Nigerian scams.

    The ineptitude of the Nigerian 419 solicitation, and presumably the crudity of the Biology-Online come-on spam, are, if not purposeful, at least, the product of natural selection and they serve a purpose.

    What they do is qualify the mark. If you respond favorably to a solicitation only a chump would, you have qualified as just the sort of target they are seeking. It rings their dinner bell.

    If you're too smart (or streetwise, as many book-smart people seem to be sucked in) to nibble, they don't want to waste their time with you. That's why they have crude solicitations. Crude people like Ofek are not mandatory for this model, but they do seem to come with it.

  3. Bex says:

    "Note: …when you think about the use of the word "whore", it's a good thing to remember that sex workers are actual human beings, not abstractions. They are more than the collection of social attitudes about them. [...] I stopped using "whore" as a political epithet."

    I think I might just love you forever for this. I believe that the use of the words "whore" or "prostitute" as a euphemism for anyone who "sells out" is just as misogynistic, just as insidious as the attitudes of the asshats who think they have the privilege and the right to go around trying to shame every woman who doesn't do exactly as she is asked to without question.

  4. Ancel De Lambert says:

    Nepotism? Yes. Sexism? Not so much.

  5. Shane says:

    Ofel was simply trying to hurt her feelings. Ofel (yes on purpose) may or may not be male. I think we should not lose sight of this. This person should be outed from their dark and damp little corner, so that we may taunt them for a second time.

  6. Jo says:

    Mariette DiChristina is sorry for what she done.

    Juggling holiday-weekend commitments with family, lack of signal and a dying phone, alongside the challenges of reaching colleagues over a holiday weekend, I attempted to at least address initial social-media queries about the matter with a tweet yesterday: “Re blog inquiry: @sciam is a publication for discovering science. The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed.” I acknowledge that microblogs are not the ideal medium for such an important explanation to our audiences and regret the delay in providing a fuller response. My brief attempt to clarify, posted with the belief that “saying something is better than saying nothing,” clearly had the opposite effect. With 20/20 hindsight, I wish I had simply promised a fuller reply when I was able to be better connected and more thorough.

    but she's still gonna do it:

    Unfortunately, we could not quickly verify the facts of the blog post and consequently for legal reasons we had to remove the post. Although we regret that this was necessary, a publisher must be able to protect its interests and Scientific American bloggers are informed that we may remove their blog posts at any time when they agree to blog for us.

  7. Nicholas Weaver says:

    "Its not our fault, here, its our lawyers fault" Hu?

  8. So would this be "Scientific American" or "American Pimp" magazine?

    (Yes, I'm a former leader of Scientific American, before it became "Socializt Amerikan" some years ago. I didn't know it had transformed itself again.)

  9. SarahW says:

    "When you treat with them you only help spread this culture."

    Thanks, Scientific American. But please rethink

    And Great Julius Caesar's commentaries on toast that was all very well said.

  10. Unimaginative says:

    Nepotism? Yes. Sexism? Not so much.

    What? Nepotism? Where are you getting that from?

    And yes, using a gendered slur is generally sexist. Especially, calling a black woman "urban whore" is sexist and racist.

  11. Dave Howe says:

    But isn't getting content for free then charging for it the business model of *all* the scientific journals?

  12. Nate says:

    I'm not sure if what Jo has posted there, from the latest quote by Mariette DiChristina, actually helped SciAm's cause. Especially as the blog post in question posted copies of the emails. Did anyone seek to contact Ms.Lee and ask her to help with validation? I suspect not. And if not, then nothing was done to verify the truth of the statements, and therefore I call bullshit. It had nothing to do with lawyers. It seems to me it has always been about their affiliate. Though why the hell they'd want to be affiliated with a blog like that is beyond me.

  13. gramps says:

    from the post by Jo: "Juggling holiday-weekend commitments with family, lack of signal and a dying phone, alongside the challenges of reaching colleagues over a holiday weekend…"

    Holiday weekend? You mean Columbus, er Lief Erickson, Day? Are there cards for his occasion? Good grief that's a lame excuse.

  14. Josh C says:

    Why is it clear that "whore" was intended to be a gendered slur? (follow up: what does that even mean?)

    Ofek is clearly an asshole, and Scientific American's actions are clearly failtastic. Where does sexism come into the picture, aside from commentary after the fact?

  15. Scott says:

    The apologize is a non-apology. The legal matters they address are completely at odds with the tweet. While the initial response was positive, other people have continued to levee criticism against SciAm. 10:1 says they start moderating the comments.

  16. AlphaCentauri says:

    If you call a man a whore, it's not a gendered insult. But if you call a woman a whore, she's likely to interpret it in terms of its original connotations. And she's likely to assume you're going to know that she will. So she will interpret your insult along the lines of, "You little bitch, you won't write for me because I'm not offering enough money, but I bet you would sleep with me if I offered enough."

    Just in case you're wondering why women you call whores are not acting friendly towards you afterward.

  17. urbantravels says:

    Scientific American apparently never learned the first rule of holes. As someone already pointed out in the comments on SciAm's Facebook page, this is a shining example of the Streisand Effect in action. I follow various science bloggers and tweeters and such and this story was *all over the place* yesterday. Couldn't possibly have missed it the moment I turned my computer on.

    And yes, let's fully acknowledge that "urban" has become a bizarre stand-in/euphemism for "black," for reasons that I suspect are uncomfortably weird. There was an old episode of the Larry Sanders show in which the musical guest for the night was going to be the Wu-Tang Clan. Various upstream execs got nervous and conveyed to the show producers that they felt this act was "too urban". Artie placatingly suggested "Let's call Lenny Kravitz; he's only half-urban."

  18. SarahW says:

    At least she admits she lied about the reason the post was pulled.
    She's still sort of lying, because the real reason was always the business relationship.

    And ICYMI, she very enthusiastically lied about this aspect in a "microblog" on twitter yesterday, averring the business partnership with Biology Online had had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to remove DNLee's post.

    They need to cut off Biology Online at the knees for doing that to a contributor to their pages. BO embarrassed them, not the blogger.

  19. Scote says:

    Nice article. I'm glad that you point out that the baggery is not merely sexist but also that of the entitlement of marketers, like the telemarketers and scammers who sometimes loose it and swear at their victims when they decline a pitch over the phone for wasting their time and how dare they say "no."

    Ofek has likely been rude in the past to men who declined his oh so generous offer of working for free but it does also seem more likely that he felt even more free to do so because the Urban Blogger is female.

    Marketers…I wonder if "Ofek" is a cryptogram for "Pony"?

  20. AlphaCentauri says:

    biology-online.org is registered to Elmar Shar:

    Domain Name:BIOLOGY-ONLINE.ORG
    Created On:28-Nov-2001 22:21:45 UTC
    Last Updated On:08-Sep-2013 14:22:09 UTC
    Expiration Date:28-Nov-2015 22:21:45 UTC
    Sponsoring Registrar:GoDaddy.com, LLC (R91-LROR)
    Registrant Name:Elmar Shar
    Registrant Street1:10/125 Banksia Street
    Registrant Street2:Botany
    Registrant Street3:
    Registrant City:Sydney
    Registrant State/Province:New South Wales
    Registrant Postal Code:2019
    Registrant Country:AU
    Registrant Phone:+61.405010290
    Registrant Email:elmar.shar[@]gmail.com

    That address may be a mail drop. It's a residential apartment near Sydney, but there are a lot of businesses associated with that address.
    He also seems to go by the name Elmar Sharafutdinov
    https://pipl.com/directory/name/Sharafutdinov/Elmar/

    Domain registration history shows he has listed his organization as Palmside Holdings Pty, Ltd. The previous owner was Michael Doubinski of AAA Marketing World at a different address in Sydney:

    Domain Name:BIOLOGY-ONLINE.ORG
    Created On:28-Nov-2001 22:21:45 UTC
    Last Updated On:13-Aug-2005 10:27:15 UTC
    Expiration Date:28-Nov-2010 22:21:45 UTC
    Sponsoring Registrar:GoDaddy.com, Inc. (R91-LROR)
    Registrant Name:Michael Doubinski
    Registrant Organization:AAA Marketing World
    Registrant Street1:205/1-9 Pyrmont Bridge Rd.
    Registrant Street2:
    Registrant Street3:
    Registrant City:Sydney
    Registrant State/Province:New South Wales
    Registrant Postal Code:2009
    Registrant Country:AU
    Registrant Phone:+61.402254908
    Registrant Email:doub[@]quoteworld.org

    There is a domain arbitration for a different domain that lists the principals in his organization and indicates that AAA and Palmside are associated or the same:
    http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/search/case.jsp?case_id=20360

    Respondent:
    Alexander Rosenblatt
    AMM Limited
    Elmar Shar
    Flippa.com Pty Ltd
    Hotels Combined Pty Ltd
    Mikhail Doubinski
    Palmside Holdings Pty Ltd t/a AAA Marketing World
    Yana Belkova
    Yury Sharafutdinov (also known as Yuri Sharafutdinov, Yury Shar and Tyson Rukash)

    He's appears to have a social networking page here:
    http://www.odnoklassniki.ru/profile/164663439

    And he may have graduated from high school as a "Distinguished Achiever" in 2002:
    http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/ebos/static/DSACH_2002_12_S6.htm

    It doesn't mean he's "Ofek," but he probably knows how to get in touch with him.

  21. TomB says:

    And yes, let's fully acknowledge that "urban" has become a bizarre stand-in/euphemism for "black," for reasons that I suspect are uncomfortably weird.

    Ask Mel Brooks:

    What's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?

    -Blazing Saddles (1974)

    Neither "bizarre" nor "weird", just silly.

  22. Ken White says:

    FWIW, if Ofek had added "urban" himself I would be more inclined to see it as a racial reference. As it is, it may just be a play on the name of her blog, "Urban Scientist."

  23. Carl says:

    The sexism claim is just nonsense, the sort which dilutes real sexism issues and makes it look like a whiny joke.

    People throw around the word "whore" all the time in disputes over when money should be taken, and that's exactly the point of the word.

    Anyone who thinks sexual whoring in particular is exclusively a female activity is in fact the real sexism bigot (not to mention completely out of touch with modern culture). Ask your local police for confirmation.

    Scientific American is apparently the real whore here, as they seem to have no moral standards for deciding which business relationship to preserve.

  24. Allen says:

    I don't know, sometimes when I was chasing research funding I did feel like a panhandler. That seems to be a fair epithet to use. I never carried a squeegee though.

    I spent a bit of time looking around the biology-online site. Only one thing came to mind: Sci. Am. has fallen this low?

  25. TomB says:

    How much protection does the “The views expressed are those of the author…” boilerplate that's included on SciAm's blogs actually give them?

  26. Name (required) says:

    Harlan Ellison — Pay the Writer
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE

  27. Aimee Weber says:

    Ken, if you're opting to refer to Danielle Lee by title, you should change "Ms. Lee" to "Dr. Lee".

  28. Head Stomp says:

    Ken clearly thinks it is reasonable when noticing tendencies or an increased incidence of certain behaviors within a group, to then use that to assume things about individuals belonging to that group.

    Is that not the definition of bigotry?

  29. SIV says:

    Mariette DiChristina is no Albert Graham Ingalls.

  30. Edward J. Cunningham says:

    As a fan of Maggie McNeill, thank you for the postscript.

  31. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    Elmar Shar (or Elmar Sharafutdinov) appears to be related to several domains according to various domain inspection tools:

    1. americanairlinecenter.com
    2. biology-forum.org
    3. biology-online.net
    4. biology-online.org
    5. biologyforum.org
    6. biologyonline.com

  32. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    A marketeer who calls anybody a whore is trying to assert that it is worse to be a whore than a marketeer …. and is therefore a social climber.

  33. Skepti says:

    Palmside Holdings has a sole director who is also the company secretary, a Maria Katsanu. no mention of an Ofek or Elmar Shar.

  34. barry says:

    DiChristina's first story was that DNLee's blog was removed because it was 'not appropriate'.
    Is the new story that it was removed because she needed more time to check that DNLee had not forged the screen grabs of Ofek's emails?
    I can't see how that helps.

  35. Anthelme says:

    A little too close to home on the Doxing… I live in Australia, (the other large city not Sydney), sad that trolling people with a legit passion to increase knowledge ends up using the lowest common denominator (aka the slur used).

    I'm lucky however nobody has yet tried to aggregate my gaming blog as a revenue stream, and I'd probably avoid someone who automatically switches to the vitriol when denied something they believe they should have. Well no that's false, I would categorically avoid them, and I would let them know why.

  36. Q: What's the difference between a marketeer and a whore?
    A: The one will tempt you with vile yet ephemeral pleasures that will corrupt your most precious virtues and mark you as unfit for civil society, and the other will have sex with you in exchange for payment.

  37. Christophe says:

    The logic that calling a black woman an urban whore is not sexist can be easily extended to say, "Make me a sandwich, bitch" is not sexist because "bitch" can be used in other contexts and sandwiches are not gendered, and further, having been at Togo's just the other day, men make sandwiches too.

    In short, it is an absurd argument.

  38. ZT says:

    During the Cold War "Scientific American" was an unabashed supporter of the USSR.

  39. urbantravels says:

    Ken, I missed the point about the name of the blog being Urban Scientist. And it is so named because the blog actually is (in part) about urban ecology and urban nature. It remains an open question whether "Ofek" is actually clever enough to have intentionally played on any other meaning of the word "urban." Doubtful, but just barely possible.

  40. Christophe says:

    And this also raises the question… does this ever work, or have we found the Land Of No Impulse Control?

    PR person: "Please write us content."
    Blogger: "What's the comp?"
    PR person: "Good feelings and the occasional unicorn GIF."
    Blogger: "Sorry, can't do, landlord won't take GIFs for rent anymore."
    PR person: "Are you a buffed professional with ripped abs or a *girlyman*?"
    Blogger: "The scales have fallen from my eyes! Here are 25,000 words on Whacky Weed-Whacker Accidents!"
    PR person: "Did we *say* we wanted long-form, girlyman?"

    I mean, really?

  41. Bob Brown says:

    @TomB: I am not a lawyer, but I think my lawyer friends would say SciAm is safe because Section 230. (If I am wrong, I'm pretty sure someone will tell us, and I'll learn something.)

  42. Tarrou says:

    So a scientific publication of some repute has a shady deal with some internet denizen who seems a total cock, and the lesson we are to derive from this is that it would have been all cool, but for the misogyny.

    I'm not sure "random internet dude insinuates scientist is a whore" falls into the "major problems in science" category. If the issues in science are as dire as Ken believes, surely he can do better than trying to link a web marketer known only by an internet handle to the scientific community at large. "Ofek" isn't Hawkings, I'll wager.

  43. SIV says:

    Tarrou • Oct 13, 2013 @5:21 pm

    So a scientific publication of some repute

    Certainly for its first 100 years of publication, arguably so for most of the next 50 years, as of late, not so much.

  44. Shane says:

    We do not know the gender of Ofel, so any discussion centering around the the insult leveled at Dr. Lee can not really be called sexist.

  45. AlphaCentauri says:

    @Shane, true, I was making assumptions. OTOH, the fact that sexism or racism has percolated so deep that people use such insults to pull each other down like crabs in a bucket demonstrates how bigotry limits people's belief in their own value and potential, and therefore, may prevent them from contributing all they might have contributed to society.

  46. Fasolt says:

    I read the non-apology of Editor-in-Chief Mariette DiChristina over at SA. This little sentence at the end of the article caught my eye:

    "The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American."

    If that's true, who the hell speaks for the magazine?

  47. eddie says:

    Since I started reading her I stopped using "whore" as a political epithet.

    What a shame. You're impoverishing your rhetorical repertoire due to a lack of context sensitivity.

    I bear no ill will whatsoever to anyone who chooses to exchange sex for money (in either direction). I don't think the slightest bit less of prostitutes due to their profession, any more than I would athletes or plumbers or programmers. I don't think being a prostitute is shameful, and I feel awful for the plight of any prostitute who DOES think it's shameful (or otherwise less-than-desirable for any reason) and yet feels that they have to keep doing it for some reason.

    Even so, I recognize that the word "whore" means "woman exchanging sex for money, which is shameful".

    I would never call a prostitute a whore.

    I will, however, happily call a politician a whore, because the word still exists and still means something even though, in my opinion, the thing that it means does not itself exist. But because the word exists and has meaning, it can be used metaphorically, analogously, poetically. To call someone who is obviously not exchanging sex for money "a whore" is to imply, poetically, that they are exchanging something for money (or other valuable consideration such as power or favor) and that they are shameful for doing so.

    So. Prostitutes aren't whores, but politicians are, and we shouldn't be reluctant to say so.

  48. Sally Strange says:

    It's so ADORABLE that Popehat has so many sociology denialists as commenters. I mean seriously–people are still under the delusion that if a woman does it, it can't be sexist? LOL!

  49. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    Just noticed that SA's "partner network" site for today -

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/partners/

    is slightly different from their partner network site for yesterday -

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:tXX_jK3bV5oJ:www.scientificamerican.com/partners/+scientific+american+partner+network&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    Of course, this was also posted today from Dichristina –

    "We would like to make clear that Biology-Online is neither a part of Scientific American, nor a “content partner.” We are investigating what links we currently have with Biology-Online."

    Maybe someone should tell them about the cached version to help their "investigating" in the name of "discovering science".

  50. Sharon says:

    Scientific American has some kind of partnership arrangement with Biology-Online, according to multiple stories about this.

    I've looked at their website's "partner" page and don't see the Biology-Online site as one of the entries listed. Perhaps it was removed, perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place, perhaps other writers elsewhere have been mistaken, perhaps someone deliberately started a rumor of partnership, perhaps it's a different type of "partner" than what their partner page includes. I didn't feel inclined to go digging much further.

    The SciAm statement claims BO had an advertising network relationship (some such wording), not an editorial relationship. But their actions and sure make it look like BO has a censorship right, which is an editorial relationship no matter how it's manifested.

  51. Chad Miller says:

    Tarrou:

    the lesson we are to derive from this is that it would have been all cool, but for the misogyny

    Are you sure you're not just making that up? The very thesis of this post is that it's not just sexism.

    Sally: I think some of it might be coming from the bottom of the Hacker News barrel (this post made the front page there). Between this post and a blog post about an alleged sexual assault, those types seem to be particularly mobilized right now.

  52. Ken White says:

    @Tarrou

    lesson we are to derive from this is that it would have been all cool, but for the misogyny.

    Yeah, totally. Except for the part where I mocked the aggregator and then said

    Hence the venerable Scientific American — which for reasons that passeth all understanding partners with Biology-Online.org

    You know, Tarrou, when I expressed a wish you'd stop reading my blog, I sort of anticipated you'd understand that I meant you'd stop commenting too.

  53. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    @Sharon

    I've looked at their website's "partner" page and don't see the Biology-Online site as one of the entries listed. Perhaps it was removed…

    It was removed. You can find the cached version by googling the terms "Scientific American partner network". Then look for the little downward pointing triangle on the result. Clicking that will allow you to select "cached" or "similar" results.

    The cached result pulls up yesterday's version of the partner network page – which still contained Biology Online.

    I posted a link to that page here but it might not make it through the spam filter.

  54. wolfefan says:

    @Ken –

    Based on his comment, I don't think Tarrou is actually reading the blog. Skimming, maybe…

  55. Smut Clyde says:

    ZT: During the Cold War "Scientific American" was an unabashed supporter of the USSR.

    Citations, please.

  56. Sharon says:

    Thanks Mark. I figured that if there had been a relationship of some type, some folks would be working to nail it down and I'd get the scoop sooner or later :)

    As it turns out our posts were put on the site at the same time. One minute earlier on yours and I'd have cancelled mine, since I try to refresh the page before doing a final Send just in case someone's already addressed what I'm saying or asking.

    What's really amusing on the cached page you posted is the twitter feeds that were caught on that image. Not at all complimentary :)

  57. htom says:

    SciAm is a scientific publication? Oh, really? They used to be a propaganda magazine with science-looking illustrations, racing Discover to the bottom of the pile. American Scientist is the best "popularizer" of science these days.

  58. Jacob H says:

    It's also an opportunity to remind yourself and your readers about the culture of online marketeering. This is what online marketeers think of you. When you treat with them you only help spread this culture. Fight sexism! But don't forget to shun marketeers and their methods.

    Are there any ways that we might not realize that we are supporting marketeers? For example, are there any popular websites someone might not realize are affiliated with these type of guys? Or are you talking more about common-sense things like not clicking on spam links…? I don't want to support these types of operations, but you aren't giving me clear direction on how to do that.

  59. Anony Mouse says:

    American Scientist is the best "popularizer" of science these days.

    I still prefer Science News.

  60. Heather says:

    I completely agree with eddie's comment above. Appropriating the word "whore" on a temporary basis (eg. I am for the moment, an Irregular Whore, to show some solidarity with Dr. Lee with the #replaceyourscienceblogtitlewithwhore Twitter hashtag – which doesn't mean I am not in solidarity with sex workers) doesn't take away (yet) from its insulting nature. Applying it to marketeers and certain politicians is much more appropriate than to sex workers. There can perhaps be something learned from the evolution of the semantics of "queer".

    As to the racist aspect of the original insult, I think that ended up compounding a rather purely sexist comment – Dr. Lee's blog is entitled the Urban Scientist, she qualifies herself as a hip-hop maven, and she has a right to appropriate for herself all the connotations that "urban" seems to be accumulating over time.

  61. Chris Ho-Stuart says:

    FWIW.

    Biology-online has been around for years; most active part is probably their discussion forum. It was purchased by "Keebali media" in 2008 or so: Keebali own a number of forums, but it seems to be a pretty small operation. It's not just an aggregator or marketeer as I understand the term; but they do use ads on the sites for revenue.

    In any case — Ofek was apparently a recent hire, and he was fired pretty much as soon as the owners could be informed. The ground work of contacting owners was done by webmaster, who is a genuine biology enthusiast and has been with the site from even before Keebali purchased it. IMO she's done a good job in a bad situation and showed considerable personal class. As has Dr Lee, by the way!

    Biology-online have since also made their apology email to Dr Lee available on the site, and have given an extended apology to others involved with the site and affected by this. You can find it at http://www.biology-online.org/biology-forum/about34647.html

  62. Docrailgun says:

    We can call it misogynist, though. Even if the marketeer is a woman it is stil misogyny.

  63. Lizard says:

    @eddie: So, we need a word for "a person who accepts money for something, and should be ashamed for doing so".

    I propose "marketer".

  64. Lizard says:

    @Shane: So, when I read a book by, say, a fundamentalist woman which advocates that "godly" women be good little obedient drones who seek nothing more from life than being a "helpmate" to their husbands, that says any other lifestyle or choice is "wrong", and that women should never question their husbands, or criticize them, no matter what they do, that is not "sexist" because a woman wrote it? (Yes, such books exist. By the gigaton.)

    The idea that "It's not sexist if a woman says it" is, itself, sexist. It implies the ideas of men and women are no co-equal and cannot be judged objectively, outside the context of the speaker. If an idea is right, it is right. If an idea is wrong, it is wrong. If a woman says a stupid thing, it's just as stupid as if a man says it.

    This is different from the idea of in-group/out-group use of terms, words, etc. That's not an issue of the idea itself, but of the phrasing and the shadings and meanings of words. Words don't exist in a vacuum, unless you're running your Hoover over where you spilled the Alpha-Bits. Badum bum! Words tend to have strongly defined centers and a host of fuzzy little edges, trailing off. Time and history change the accepted meaning. Context and assumed audience do, as well. Private or public, with friends or with strangers, etc, all affect the intent and perception of word choices.

    As a PS, my basic response to anyone who would ask me if I was a whore when I requested payment for professional work done in a professional manner would be, "Are you a commie?" (I mean, what else do you call someone who expects you to work for free? And it's a lot more insulting, too.) But, I suppose, one of the privileges of privilege is being able to ignore a certain level of insult, because while I expect my skills and achievements to be tested and judged, I have never had to deal with a barrier of not having them reach the point of being judged, because someone presumed, based on unrelated traits, I could not do decent work and they shouldn't waste their time looking at what I could do. IOW, I've never heard anyone say, "If a fat Jewish nerd shows up to interview for a programming job, I just tell 'em the position's filled, sorry. Those types never work out, and they're just not a good fit." If I'd regularly had such experiences, I expect I'd be a lot more prickly about things.

  65. Chris Rhodes says:

    Before anyone can have a meaningful discussion about what constitutes sexism, I think they would first have to define what sexism is, in their opinion.

    My attempt: Sexism is discrimination against a person based on a prejudice rooted in beliefs about their sex/gender.

    Maybe someone can change my mind, but so far, this doesn't seem to be a case of sexism to me. If I call a guy a dick, it may be a "gendered" insult, but that doesn't strike me as sexist against men; I'm asserting that this particular individual is acting in a way I find obnoxious. I haven't made a statement about men in general, nor have I discriminated against him because of my prejudiced beliefs about men.

    In this case, it's not even clear that the insult was meant in a gendered manner. When P.J. O'Rourke wrote "Parliament of Whores", I don't think he was referring to only the representatives of a single gender.

  66. ppnl says:

    Hey, the biology online forum looks cool. And I don't yet see any evidence of marketing excesses. It could be just one idiot at biology-online and one moron at sciam. There is real power in stupid.

    But people should keep looking.

  67. Dion starfire says:

    @Ken How the heck do you remember 4+ years of blog postings, such that you can pull up references like that?

    I know google can be pretty powerful, but I didn't think it could handle vague concepts like marketers behaving badly.

  68. The Man in the Mask says:

    Your comments about the faux outrage of spammers (and related varieties are accurate and indicative.

    I've studied spammers in more depth and longer than anyone else — which tells you a lot about MY misplaced priorities, but let's press on. And one of the things I've learned about them is that they're sociopaths: they're so disconnected from humanity that they simply don't care what harm they inflict. It's all justifiable to them, with the justification ranging from "you didn't ask me to stop" to "you're interfering with my business" to "you must have forgotten you subscribed" to "just hit delete" and more.

    This is why there are no ex-spammers: they don't stop because they CAN'T stop. The spamming (and all the lying that goes along with it) is an intrinsic part of their personality. They truly believe that they have right to inflict anything on anyone, and that anything (or anybody) who gets in the way of that is not just obstructionist, but evil.

    The late Jim Nitchals acquired a certain amount of fame for his well-intentioned attempts to reform spammers. Jim was a nice man, and a sincere man, and a noble man: he failed miserably. It wasn't for lack of effort on his part, and it wasn't because he was a poor communicator: it was because he was trying to get the leopard to change its spots. And it can't.

    Thus it's not surprising to see spammer "Ofek" reacting in such a way: like all other spammers, he's a sociopathic monster. In another life, he'd be torturing heretics, burning witches, serial killing, or engaging in mass murder — so we should probably be thankful that in this one he's just an offensively abusive halfwit.

  69. Lizard says:

    Thus it's not surprising to see spammer "Ofek" reacting in such a way: like all other spammers, he's a sociopathic monster. In another life, he'd be torturing heretics, burning witches, serial killing, or engaging in mass murder — so we should probably be thankful that in this one he's just an offensively abusive halfwit.

    Well, so far as I know, he hasn't been stupid enough to show up here, or in similar fora, to defend himself (or threaten lawsuits), which shows he's smarter than, say, Charles Carreon. This is, I grant you, not a high bar.

  70. Man in the Mask,

    Your thesis is very appealing. Got a cite?

  71. Shane says:

    @Lizard

    Thank you for weighing in with something coherent. :)

    I like what you said.

    I get confused by the words hurt thing. I have been called faggot more than once in my life and from the variance of people that use this word against me, I gained understanding of what context means. e.g. If a gay man calls me this then he is hitting on me, if a redneck is calling me this and he is larger than me (or has friends) then I am looking for a way to exit (quickly).

    Oddly enough hanging around in a gay community kinda changes the word whore for me. I really don't see it as a sexist term at all. but I understand from your first paragraph why you (or others) would see it that way, and I learned another point of view.

    Frankly I see not using words either through edict or because of social stigma is kinda like the drug war. Because words have social stigma will be precisely why some would use them, therefore they will never go away. Even when groups try to "own" them it won't make the word go away or even it's meaning.

    In this article I think the real issue is that SA censored a very legitimate attempt by Dr. Lee to call out the person who insulted her with a word. It doesn't matter what that word was. Any number of insulting words could have been chosen to insult Dr. Lee, and all of them would have negative connotation for her, that was entirely the point. What SA did was limit Dr. Lee's ability to defend herself from the pointed attack that was delivered on her, this is what I find repugnant, not some stupid word.

  72. Shane says:

    @Sally Strange

    It's so ADORABLE that Popehat has so many sociology denialists as commenters.

    I tried this approach with commenters here, read complete strangers, and it doesn't end well. But hell it reinforces w/e view you have so there is that.

    If you understand something then explain your understanding, attempting to be smug and imply your superiority sure feels good, until you get called on it.

    Lizard might write books, but I can say this about him, he gets his point across. You might have a unique point of view and a particular understanding, so don't be shy in sharing it, we will all be better for it.

  73. eddie says:

    @Heather:

    Thanks for voicing your agreement.

    I'll note that I don't think you can appropriate a word for your own use any more than a surfer can appropriate a wave. Language is what it is, and no man can change it. It changes constantly as suits the needs and whimsies of mankind, but is beyond the reach of any individual or group to alter on their own.

    So you can't appropriate "whore" and make it your own. But you can take it as you've found it and use it as you will.

  74. AlphaCentauri says:

    We haven't heard Ofek's last name, and despite being "a recent hire" he described himself as "the" blog editor when emailing Dr. Lee. Given the number of people in the registrar's organization sharing last names, I wonder if he is a relative who was hired in a non-competitive way.

  75. Unimaginative says:

    Before anyone can have a meaningful discussion about what constitutes sexism, I think they would first have to define what sexism is, in their opinion.

    Why is it that, every time the topic of conversation turns to sexism or misogyny or sexual assault or rape, it suddenly becomes important to (re)define commonly-understood words? As if such definitions have never come up before, as if thousands of articles and academic papers haven't been written, as if there isn't already a consensus on a useful definition.

  76. Lizard says:

    @Shane: You should have seen it before I cut out three paragraphs. :)

  77. Sharon says:

    @Unimaginative – IME, this usually means someone wants to argue about the meaning of the word to lead into an eventual claim that the specific situation being discussed isn't really {word}. The person sometimes then goes further to claim there's no such thing as {word}.

    IME (there's that waffle again!) the request can usually be ignored, to the improvement of the overall conversation. If they persist, I post my rate sheet for Google searches.

  78. Lizard says:

    I wish to report an irksome bug: If you're editing a comment, and you're still editing when the timer runs out, you lose every edit. Y'all have been deprived of a full 10 minutes of lizard-rant, and since I type ~60 words a minute, that's 600 words or so my brilliance that's been lost to the ether.

    Reply:"That's not a bug, that's a feature!"

  79. David says:

    John: To work around the deadline bug, add another minute for those who haven't otherwise conserved their work in progress.

    Jane: ++timeout;

    John: Bumped up against that pesky deadline again and lost my work. Could you tweak that?

    Jane: ++timeout;

    John: Deadline bit me in the ascii. Help?

    Jane: ++timeout;

  80. David says:

    In other news, if you're still standing beneath the sword of Damocles when the thread finally breaks, your current utterance may not reach the end you intended for it. Utterances truncated thus the elders called "death sentences".

  81. Hoare says:

    Offensive and discriminatory behavior has always been discouraged. We intend to preserve this core function of the website. After an immediate and fair deliberation of the situation we decided to terminate the services of Ofek for his failure to represent and keep what we value in Biology Online.

    http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/10/14/scientific-american-draws-heat-over-urban-whore-blog-post/?intcmp=latestnews

  82. Chris Rhodes says:

    @Unimaginative

    Why is it that, every time the topic of conversation turns to sexism or misogyny or sexual assault or rape, it suddenly becomes important to (re)define commonly-understood words? As if such definitions have never come up before

    In any discussion/argument, it's a commonly accepted practice to state your definitions up front, or there exists no common ground with which to argue. And of course definitions have come up before; I simply want to know which one people are using.

    @Sharon

    IME, this usually means someone wants to argue about the meaning of the word to lead into an eventual claim that the specific situation being discussed isn't really {word}.

    That's probably broadly true. If people are merely interested in shouting angrily into an echo-chamber, then definitions are irrelevant. I would expect such a request to come from someone who wants to disagree in a congenial, less confrontational manner (especially when discussing a touchy subject).

    It's your prerogative to write me off if you want, of course, but I hope you don't.

  83. Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey says:

    I encounter these privileged marketeers all the time in my role as a volunteer admin for the English-language Wikipedia. How dare we prevent them from shilling and spamming for themselves and their clients! It is the huckster-pimp mentality at its very vilest.

  84. htom says:

    I still prefer Science News.

    I mostly hit <a href="http://www.technologyreview.com/?mod=Nav_Home&quot; title="MIT's Technology Review" once a day.

  85. Sharon says:

    I too encountered the entitlement mindset regularly, when I moderated discussion and chat forums (not here). How dare we let people use our site to discuss the subjects and communities to which the forums were devoted, and not let them use it for shilling, spamming, and malware delivery! How dare we decline the honor of being the bearer of their links! *ptui*

    In a smaller, over-the-weekend explosion of entitlement – a blog entry about a comedian feeling entitled to laughs gets a bit feisty http://m.portlandmercury.com/portland/blogs/Post?basename=my-least-favorite-piece-of-misogyny-this-week-comedy-bullies&day=12&id=BlogtownPDX&month=10&year=2013

    (The comedian is a brief new poster child for "How Not To Handle Criticism". The original blogger groused a bit about a comedian calling her out by name, from the stage, because she didn't laugh at some of his jokes. She didn't give his name, nor even the date and club. The comedian left a comment blasting her, under his own name. Other posters dragged feminism into it and boom)

  86. Smut Clyde says:

    Re. Elmar Sharafutdinov, owner of Biology-online:
    There is a domain arbitration for a different domain that lists the principals in his organization and indicates that AAA and Palmside are associated or the same

    Googling the names of his business associates / family reveals a long history of cybersquatting and shakedowns leading to domain arbitration, e.g.
    http://www.adrforum.com/domains/decisions/592566.htm
    or
    http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/decisions/word/2005/d2005-1023.doc

    Also, the fraudulent use of false names when registering these shakedown domain names:
    http://www.oapi.wipo.net/amc/en/domains/search/case.jsp?case_id=20360

    So Biology-online is now claiming to have discontinued "Ofek"'s employment. What are the chances that "Ofek" ("Horizon") is another disposable pseudonym?

  87. Mary says:

    Well written response to the situation. However, I'd like to point out that it's Dr. Lee, not Ms. Lee. Please show some respect for the title that she has earned.

  88. Clark says:

    @Mary:

    Well written response to the situation. However, I'd like to point out that it's Dr. Lee, not Ms. Lee. Please show some respect for the title that she has earned.

    Oh Jesus. This objection.

    In our society medical doctors are addressed as "Doctor". JDs and PhDs are not. …with one exception. The flakier the degree, the more likely the degree holder is to insist on the title. Physicists never demand the verbal obsequiousness. Those with PhDs in "Education", which has about the same connection to actual academia as does Professor Elemental, almost always do.

    You're (a) showing your ignorance of the actual use of the title, and (b) insulting the validity of Ms Lee's degree by your objection.

  89. Nate says:

    @Clark: Most people with a Ph.D. tend to go by their first name, however when using an honorific it is more appropriate to use Dr. rather than Mr., Mrs., Ms., etc. (if you know they have a Ph.D.). That being said, outside of the professional setting most Ph.D.s don't give a rats ass bc it matters not, however in a professional setting the honorific often affects the type of respect you receive as well as denotes the time spent to extensively study and research a topic. (It denotes achievement if you will.)

    Honestly though if someone has a doctorate I am happy to call them doctor if they so desire. It doesn't bother me; getting a doctorate is a hell of a lot of work. Why are you so down on calling people with doctorates by the honorific doctor?

  90. JTM says:

    @Clark "In our society medical doctors are addressed as "Doctor". JDs … are not."

    That's "Dr. Esquire, Attorney-at-Law," thank you very much. Give officers of the court their due.

    Also, Emily Post's guide to professional titles:

    "Doctor
    Socially as well as professionally, medical doctors, dentists, and other professionals are addressed by, and introduced with, their titles. People who have earned a Ph.D. or any other academic, nonmedical doctoral degree have the choice of whether to use "Dr." both professionally and socially. If, when meeting people with doctorates, you're unsure how to address them, "Dr." is always correct. If they'd rather the title be dropped, they will let you know.

    It's more common for women to use the title "Doctor" socially as well as professionally than in the past. When a married woman uses the title "Dr." (either medical or academic) socially, addressing social correspondence to the couple is a little trickier. If her husband is not a doctor, address letters to Dr. Sonia and Mr. Robert Harris. Her name comes first because her professional title "outranks" his social title. If her husband is also a doctor, the address is either The Drs. (Doctors) Harris or Drs. Sonia and Robert Harris (the order of the names doesn't matter)."

    http://www.emilypost.com/communication-and-technology/social-names-and-titles/774-professional-titles

  91. Clark says:

    @JTM

    @Clark "In our society medical doctors are addressed as "Doctor". JDs … are not."

    That's "Dr. Esquire, Attorney-at-Law," thank you very much. Give officers of the court their due.

    And my point is that, outside of formal paperwork (which you capture), the title is not, in fact, used.

    People who have earned a Ph.D. or any other academic, nonmedical doctoral degree have the choice of whether to use "Dr." both professionally and socially.

    Absolutely. And any PhD who chooses to use "Dr." socially is immediately marked as a grade-A twat by anyone who has ever met socially well adjusted PhDs.

    It's more common for women to use the title "Doctor" socially as well as professionally than in the past.

    Given that more women have fake PhDs in pretend fields like "Education" and "Women's Studies" than in actual fields of study like physics or chemistry, I think that this is entirely likely to be true.

    This is unfortunate, because it tars by association women who have PhDs in real fields (including Danielle N Lee, with a PhD in biology).

    @Nate

    Most people with a Ph.D. tend to go by their first name

    Agreed.

    That
    being said, outside of the professional setting most Ph.D.s don't
    give a rats ass bc it matters not,

    Or rather, outside of the professional setting, most PhDs in real fields actively do give a rats ass, and prefer not to be lumped with the Education major poseurs who insist on "Doctor".

  92. JTM says:

    @Clark "And my point is that, outside of formal paperwork (which you capture), the title is not, in fact, used."

    While true, I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that using lengthier titles in everyday conversation becomes an industry standard. All those .1s during phone calls add up. The titles don't help us at all in writing, since they're already set in the document templates.

  93. Manatee says:

    @Clark

    "Given that more women have fake PhDs in pretend fields like "Education" and "Women's Studies" than in actual fields of study like physics or chemistry, I think that this is entirely likely to be true."

    Could you please elaborate on that statement?

    Do you mean that "PhDs held by males are >50% in STEM fields, while PhDs held by females are 50% of men with PhDs have at least one in a STEM fields, while >50% of women with PhDs do not"? Or are you comparing actual numbers and not proportions? (Obviously, I'm guessing that by "fake" you mean anything not in a STEM field, but if you want you can make your case that psychology or sociology are "real.")

    When I was getting my degree in engineering, our department was predominantly male, as were math and computer science. I'm guessing you're pulling your information from similar sources. But in the other hard sciences (biology, chemistry, biochem, physics, astrophysics, applied math) the numbers were getting too close to call without a head count. Our overall classes were about even gender-wise.

    I don't know if the trend for increasing proportions of women in STEM fields has continued, leveled off, or even reversed itself, but as I understand it, the general trend of more women entering higher education has continued, so it wouldn't surprise me if we reach a point where there are actually more women with both real and fake PhDs than men.

    "This is unfortunate, because it tars by association women who have PhDs in real fields (including Danielle N Lee, with a PhD in biology)."

    I think the implied distinction only exists in the minds of small fraction of people. A lot of my classmates have earned their PhDs in a "real" field, while I have shamed our class by getting a law degree instead. Most of them are annoyed by "fake" PhDs of both genders who love to show off their degree, and at least in my experience, there doesn't seem to be any added antipathy towards women with fake PhDs, nor any sense that women with "real" PhDs are tarred by association than "fake" ones in a way that men are not.

  94. Manatee says:

    "In our society medical doctors are addressed as "Doctor". JDs and PhDs are not. …with one exception. The flakier the degree, the more likely the degree holder is to insist on the title. Physicists never demand the verbal obsequiousness. Those with PhDs in "Education", which has about the same connection to actual academia as does Professor Elemental, almost always do."

    So the people who deserve some recognition for their accomplishments are seldom the ones who ask for it? Isn't this precisely why people who respect those with actual academic accomplishments should take it upon themselves to indicate that respect?

    Real heroes never ask to be called heroes, either, while real douchebags generally do. Do you similarly object to either group being called what they are?

  95. informania says:

    'If you call a man a whore, it's not a gendered insult' merely reflects your own limited views on sex-work.

    This is not a gender issue, this is a class-issue; derogatory terms are used for anyone not willing to let the capitalists and their flying-marketing-monkeys get the best of them; slacker, whore, bum, etc..

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