Tim Hunt/UCL resignation

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  • There was a "witch hunt"[1], "inquisition"[2], and/or "feeding frenzy"[1] against Tim Hunt, who was "crucified by fanatics"[3], an "intolerant mob"[2] and "expel[led] from public life"[2], "hounded out"[4] by "mob rule"[1] in a "trial by social media"[4].
    • How so? No relevant details given.
  • Hunt was "hung out to dry" by UCL.
    • If he was "hung out to dry", why did he resign voluntarily? Did he even argue with UCL about it? Where is that argument reported?
  • Hunt was only joking.[2]
    • What is the evidence for this?
      • The laughter in the original recording proves that he was joking.
        • No, it doesn't. That just proves that the people who laughed thought what he said was funny -- which could have been it could have been "funny as in true" or "funny as in I can't believe he said that".
      • Hunt himself said he was only joking.[5]
        • He also seems to have meant them sincerely nonetheless. "I did mean the part about having trouble with girls. It is true that people - I have fallen in love with people in the lab and people in the lab have fallen in love with me and it's very disruptive to the science because it's terribly important that in a lab people are on a level playing field. I found that these emotional entanglements made life very difficult."[5]
      • He also acknowledged that, in retrospect, the comments were not funny: "I accept that my attempts at a self-deprecating joke were ill-judged and not in the least bit funny."[6]
  • More female scientists have come out in support of Hunt than have come out against.
    • Documentation? This would require a collection of links to female scientists expressing opinions on Hunt. Where is this collection?
  • Hunt was fired from his position.
    • No, he resigned.
  • Hunt was forced to resign.[3]
    • He apparently emailed in his resignation on request, without comment. "Tim duly emailed his resignation when he got home."[7]
  • Hunt was misquoted.
    • No, Hunt has never denied saying the things attributed to him by St Louis (and the recording apparently didn't reveal any misquotes either).


The affair seems to have started with this Tweet by Connie St. Louis on June 8: https://twitter.com/connie_stlouis/status/607813783075954688

June 9

A Daily Beast article describes Hunt's original remarks, explains why they're a problem, and goes on to paint a broader picture of sexism in science : http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/09/nobel-prize-winning-biologist-calls-women-love-hungry-cry-babies.html

That article was discussed in a blog post by PZ Myers on Pharyngula: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/06/09/being-a-good-scientist-doesnt-make-one-a-good-person/ "All I can say is... fuck off, dinosaur. We’re better off without you in any position of authority."

The Royal Society (of which Hunt is a member, but not an employee as far as I can tell) then "acted to distance itself" from Hunt's remarks: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/06/10/mediocre/ -- the Royal Society is hardly a bastion of inclusiveness (355 years old and never once had a female president), so I can't see this as a knee-jerk reaction.

June 10

Hunt resigns from his honorary position at UCL (University College London): http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0615/100615-tim-hunt

The position was unpaid and did not offer any special privileges; he wasn't doing research there or anything. It was purely for PR. When he dramatically failed at maintaining UCL's positive reputation, it was time to end the relationship.

June 11

PZ Myers reacts approvingly: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/06/11/removing-sexism-strengthens-academia/

...but the matter didn't end there.



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