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Sexual harassment is rife in the sciences, finds landmark US study (nature.com)
130 points by edwinksl 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 237 comments

I spent some time at an 'elite' neuroscience institution - HHMI Janelia. They're good at window dressing but they try to 'hire the best' and prioritize that over everything else. As a result they end up with self-obsessed PIs who are good at publishing, not doing science - usually at the cost of all those under them in their lab, and then give them a ridiculous amount of power. As you can imagine, sexual harassment thrives in this environment.

It's sick, and pushed me out of 'that' academia. I don't want to be a part of an institution that is built on empowering literally the worst, least altruistic, most exploitative people that ever lived. These people also necessarily suck at science.

I'm done with it, the institutions need to be torn down and rebuilt. It's all bullshit. The process of doing science (the journals), the institutions, the incumbents. It has all got to go.

I'm going to do science. But on my own terms.

My new purpose in life is to take the energy I would have put into science, use it be clever and generate as much capital as possible - so I can participate in our democracy and create the institution I want to be part of.

Join me. Quit your job, start a company. Burn it all down.

In one of the neurology labs I was in at UCLA, I saw the same exact thing: publishing tons of garbage and not doing real science. There were some professors of higher integrity, but the PIs that were doing the garbage publishing were getting millions of dollars.

One of my PIs, who was doing this, had a term for his publishing strategy: "salami publishing". You try to cut as thinly as possible your research and publish as many papers on it as you can. That's actually less harmful than the real problem which is that the papers were just rubbish and people in the lab seemed to all kind of know, but disliked discussing it.

Yup, the circle-jerk is strong.

My PI at Janelia once dismissed a proposal I had for an 'unsexy' but pragmatic tool that probably everyone in the building would have used. I was told it would 'do nothing for his career'.

That was pretty depressing.

The official term is MPU - minimal publishable unit.

Do we need an anonymous but authenticated web of trust system for analyzing/debunking papers? Is it apparent to those in the field that these results are low quality / junk science?

How does one detect junk science paper other than being skilled enough to have produced the bad science if the first place?

It’s definitely apparent to those in the field. All the good scientists know who publishes junk, even if the junk publishers are unaware. Arjun Raj has a great and relevant blog post on playing the long game in science: http://rajlaboratory.blogspot.com/2016/06/reproducibility-re.... Worth a read.

Is "salami publishing" even harmful at all? Isn't a larger number of smaller papers analagous to a larger number of smaller modules in software?

I don't think the analogy is valid. To be honest I hate it when I encounter a researcher who seems to be taking this strategy.

Large parts of these papers are boilerplate or duplicated between papers. This wastes the time of the reader even if they try to identify where the new parts are. Plus, the papers are published in 5 different journals or conferences and might not even cite each other, so you often aren't even aware of all of the pieces.

In my opinion, the whole idea of "papers" isn't going to stay. Papers was a way to share information when internet didn't exist. In a future, researching agents (most probably AI or robots) will "chat" and "argue" to each others, building fact and fact-checking each other sentences.

It would basically be the classical reviewing process in real time on every sentences.

In my opinion, "salami" papers go in that direction. Facts, premises and results are decoupled to more units, which can be independently claimed and proved.

I agree we need to move to a more continuous approach. We should constantly update a (digital) model of our understanding of a topic, and each (attempted) update should reevaluate against all existing cases.

Current papers are too fragmented, and primarily accumulate knowledge in those humans that actively participate in the field. By them reading the papers, evaluating and combining them. To transfer that knowledge to someone new is a process measuring in multiple years (ie a PhD). And when a person then ultimately exits their field, a lot of the accumulated understanding is lost.

Great points. I agree that a more granular approach would be better. But I think "salami" papers are too poorly implemented at present.

As a compromise in the meantime, it might be better to encourage more short papers which avoid the boilerplate parts. This would make salami slicing your papers more acceptable as you wouldn't be expected to write a full length paper, which encourages salami slicers to pad their papers.

The French "Comptes Rendus" journal works like this, and I consistently find the papers I've encountered in it to be an efficient use of my time.

The whisper network I may (or may not) be privy to, may (or may not) indicate that LA's Chem is terrible when it comes to #MeToo.

If you're not willing to give an allegation the weight of your own semi-anonymous word, and it's only an allegation, not even an anecdote...

What the hell are you even writing?

I did my graduate school in engineering and saw many of the same problems. Projects were often done simply because the matched the "brand" of the lab, meaning that they used some technology that had been developed in the lab. The experiments were almost always done haphazardly with only good results being published. Additionally, any barriers that were encountered were overcome by de-scoping the paper (removing claims that require breaking through the barrier). At the end of the day, at least basic science contributes some amount of information (however small) to the body of knowledge. Engineering research can just produce waste because it doesn't even bother to search for a fundamental truth.

Edit: I think there is still a role for engineering academics. The most successful ones that I have seen are those that are motivated by chasing down specific scientific questions and developing technology that will enable them to find answers.

In an ideal world, any well formed experiment is a source of new information. You are supposed to have valided or rejected an hypothesis, and by sharing it, other people can build on that knowledge. We don't live in an ideal world, and people well-being, including rewards, feelings and hopes, must be placed before the ideal goal.

Of course, the usual solution to that issue is to formalize and robotize the process of research, which is probably what the world is slowing tending to.

You might be interested in the Ronin Institute, basically a bunch of former academics who left traditional institutions, but are still pursuing scientific research. http://ronininstitute.org/

I'm still a grad student, but am definitely considering pursing my own goals once I finish. Fortunately the finical barriers are not insurmountable for some really interesting fields.

Thanks for the link. Seems valuable for independent researchers who want to collaborate with others like themselves.

>Join me. Quit your job, start a company.

When you're an international student on the F1 visa, it's not that easy. The moment you're out of school, you have to get back to your home country. Basically, you can swallow it and shut up for 5-n long years, or go home dishonored and waste at least n years (n = number of years you have been in grad school) of your life.

Either way, you're fucked.

I sympathize. My cofounders are international students. The pressure is on be in a place to do H1Bs for them before they graduate.

> I'm going to do science. But on my own terms.

Hey, I'm interested in this. I already quit my (non-science field) job and started a company. :-) But I'm just getting started on science. I'm using scientific principles, but I want to advance my practices.

From what I can tell so far, measurement-based or evidence-based science (hard science) is inextricably linked with the concept of society, because "that good which can be packaged and successfully transmitted across a network of social bonds" is really the main goal measuring systems serve.

Unfortunately, measurement science is also extremely shallow by its objective nature and facilitates what might be called "information pornography" when it has become too far removed from the subjective realm. Because measurement is also the art of using labels for things, the definition of (and blind spot of) "science" within this kind of institution I'm reading about would lean hard toward "labeling".

It seems that no matter how far we try to outrun the subjective, qualitative realm, our caricatures of it are really what haunt us most about it. So to sum up, what I'm looking for is reasonable measurement-based science _in society_ linked up with deep, high-quality subjective science.

Does any of this ring any intuitive bells with you? I am looking not for yin to win over yang, but for ways as a _non-professional scientist_ to meaningfully combine these aspects--to link up with others who are willing to philosophize, theorize, take measurements, remain open to new ideas, etc. within a framework that is not so swayed by some of the shallower measuring incentives, but still meets reasonably high standards.

Would love to get your thoughts--thanks for your comment and sorry to hear about your experiences at the institution in question.

In case anyone thinks this is an isolated idea, I also left academia and the scientific laboratories to work independently. While the exact reasons for doing so are multifaceted, I'll echo that there's a lot of questionable, finely parsed research that I disagree with.

Alright, so how does it work? For me, I'm on contract consulting for a few months a year and the rest of the time I spend doing research. Now, there are number of difficulties with this approach. Namely, it helps to work in a field that generates enough money to support myself for the rest of the year. Though it varies by field, I believe this has been far easier for me since I carry a Ph.D, which adds credibility on contracts. Second, I don't get to simply do research the rest of the year since it's also important to do product and client development to stay in business. Third, while consulting can pay well, it's also volatile. I've been in business full time for more than five years, so it has worked well enough, but I probably would not operate in the same manner if I had a family. That said, I've been able to look into and master many things that I would have never been able to while working in a traditional academic environment.

In short, I've been able to make this work by consulting to buy back my time. I do think there are other models to making this work and if anyone else has been successful doing independent research I'd love to hear how.

Great comment. I'm a final year PhD student right now who is planning on doing something similar. If you wouldn't mind, could you email me at the address in my profile here? I'm interested in learning more about your approach.

In addition to consulting I'm also considering the following:

- being an expert witness (a type of consulting)

- translating papers and books (worked for Julian Barbour during the cold war, but I'm not qualified and don't suspect there is great demand)

- being a lecturer or adjunct at a university (In my field it's about 10K USD per class best I can tell. My goal with this would be to help smooth out your income if consulting is too volatile. Also gives you access to university resources.)

- writing technical books (unlikely to be enough on its own, but I'm looking more into people who have done this)

- teaching workshops/short courses (Works for Edward Tufte. If books can be pirated easily then it might be best to give away the PDFs for free, sell hard copies, and make most of the money with workshops.)

- science journalism (probably a dead end)

- open source (D. Richard Hipp seems to have an interesting approach)

- donations/crowdfunding (probably not sufficient but worth looking more closely at)

- small grants (my advisor recommended this)

A better approach is to draw attention, start new institutions, do independent research, and the like. As with most revolutions, burning things down wastes energy and just creates a vacuous wasteland that is often filled with all manner of vermin. Successful, new institutions would demonstrate that a viable alternative is possible. The idea is that by demonstrating something better, the defective ones will need to change their ways or suffer extinction.

> Join me. Quit your job, start a company. Burn it all down.

And hopefully, be the owner of the next broken institution (aka: Google, Facebook, ...).

I totally agree with you, but I see this as a simple cycle.

Maybe. But this is really an engineering problem.

Albeit one we currently lack the tools to seriously tackle.

It's ridiculous that politicians and not physicists and complex systems theorists set policies in our society. We need to start viewing the economy like we view biology and understand on a deeper level the effects policies we put in place will have _before_ enacting them. Corporations are literally organisms and have agency.

It's not rocket science - if bribery is legal and corps can improve their bottom line by changing the law they _will_. They must. Or a competitor will and put them out of business.

Your politician _can't_ serve your interest, he has to keep being a politician first.

The world is pretty scary right now - corporate interest is unchecked and in danger of fucking up our societies for good.

This is how the world crumbles. Not with a bang or a whimper but by everyone 'just trying to get by'.

Pitchforks people. Pitchforks.

I don't think replacing politicians with scientists and engineers is really the solution here. We will always need the interpersonal skills that politicians bring to the table. However, these politicians should really employ more scientists and engineers as advisers. Most of the nitty gritty policy is currently handled by aides. These aides should have more training in evidence-based policy.

I'm not suggesting replacing politicians with scientists. I am trying to motivate that policy making must be approached quantitatively, and that the calculus for doing so must be developed. Definitionally this will be done by scientists.

Design the incentives right for politicians and watch as self-organization works its magic.

They are already defined, we have a lot of economics and politics theory. The problem is, the scientists, the engineers and the technical people in general don't like and don't study this kind of knowledge, because they think the politicians should be switched for technicians.

That's not true. The comparison to biology is very literal here. We simply do not have the tools to really understand complex systems.

This is where our physics fails us. We're great at predicting the behavior of systems with a small number of interacting degrees of freedom. But for systems with a huge number of interacting degrees of freedom (everything around you) we're hooped - the math is intractable to existing techniques. New approaches are required.

There _are_ some overarching principles for complex systems (namely self-organization). But they have not been well-developed.

I think it's Moloch [1] - people behaving based on incentives of a system that nobody really controls and exists largely because of poor coordination.

It isn't easy to fix because nobody has total power over the system in order to fix the bad incentives.

[1] http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/

I'm with you. Want to chat? https://invisible.college

The invisible college was started in the 1600s by Robert Boyle (of Boyle's law), as an alternative to the corrupt academy of his time, which cared more about authority than reason and evidence. The invisible college went on to invent peer review.

Now peer review has spread throughout the academy! But corruption has exploited its weaknesses and we need to build a new system, outside the academic walls, to usher in the next era of science.

Please talk with us at the new invisible college. We have a new system for peer review. It isn't yet published but it's ready for discussion.


I was thinking about starting a forum for independent researchers, but looks like you beat me to it.

Can't say I'm a fan of websites that require JS to do anything, unfortunately, but I'll check it out more closely when I get the time.

We're currently working on the forum software. I'd love to hear your ideas. Send me an email? toomim@gmail.com

If the client-side JS is a dealbreaker, let's talk about it -- we can build a server-side renderer.

Sure, I'll send you an email this weekend. I have a list of ideas from a few months back, actually.

Wonderful! I'm really looking forwad to it.

While we've gone through some amount of publicly addressing this in industries like film, I suspect there are many industries where we're not introspective enough to even recognize there's a problem yet.

I worked in games for a while, and I'd not be surprised to see that industry have a #metoo moment sometime over the next few years. We're just starting to see individuals called out in some of the more progressive studios [1], I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg.


Game development has been pretty terrible to its staff for a long time; the famous ea_spouse post was in 2004! https://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html

Indeed, film just stands out because the perpetrators and/or victims are famous.

There are quite a few lead designers in the industry with this reputation. I've heard a couple of stories about Cage in particular, it'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Here's the study report (free with "Guest" login): https://www.nap.edu/download/24994

"Findings and Conclusions" sections are too long to summarize.

excerpt from the "Students" section:


• Overall, 20.0 percent of the students surveyed reported experiencing sexual harassment perpetrated by a faculty or staff member.

• Female students (22.0 percent) and students who endorsed a gender other than male or female (46.3 percent) had significantly higher incidence rates of sexual harassment by faculty/staff, compared with male students (15.3 percent).

• Female medical and engineering students both reported significantly higher incidence of sexual harassment by faculty/staff (medical: 47 percent, engineering: 27 percent), compared with students enrolled in another major (i.e., sciences, non-STEM).

• Female students who experienced sexual harassment, compared with those who had not, generally reported worse physical and mental health outcomes, feeling less safe on campus, and higher levels across various indicators of academic disengagement.

* Among female STEM students, although white (non-Hispanic) students reported greater incidence of sexual harassment by faculty/staff, students of color and white Hispanic students who experienced sexual harassment by faculty/staff generally perceived their campus as less safe than the other female STEM students.

Interesting that the rate for male students is ~70% of the rate for female students. I wonder if it's always been that high and nobody noticed, whether it's going up, or whether the female rate is going down faster.

...or they define harassment so broadly that almost everyone is included. As a male scientist (former) I have been "harrassed" by male and female staff on many occasions, but on a level so trivial that it is totally meaningless.

What we need to worry about is not trivial harassment, but the serious cases like staff sleeping with their students or continually propositing them with threats or inducements to their careers. Let's get away from a number grab and start focusing on the really bad first [1].

1. My personal experience is the Sciences are the least bad in regard serious harassment with the Arts the worst by a factor of 10x at least.

The percentages are not consistent with a definition that includes almost everyone.

They certainly can be. If you ask 100 people if behaviour x is harassment at the minor end you will get a lot of variation. As I mentioned before I was technically sexually harassed many times when I was younger, but I would not consider myself to have been sexually harassed purely because it was so minor in my mind. A lot of it was just playful banter that went too far, but some of it was more than this and not pleasant. In the greater scheme of bad things that have happened to me in life it was not important.

What is much more of a problem in academia is abuse of power. Academics have huge power and unfortunately far to many abuse this power at the expense of their students and postdocs.

Just because you don't find the casual/small stuff to be a problem, doesn't mean it's not a problem. Your line will be different than others, you said it yourself with your comment on the variation ... why discount those who find that it has been problematic?

Because as I already mentioned there are far bigger issues to worry about in Academia. Worrying about trivial harassment is like worrying about a scratch on your arm when you have a gunshot wound in the gut.

In other words Science is the area with the least harassment, but I guess that doesn't make a very good headline.

Did they define what they called harassment?

Thanks for reading the paper and posting a summary.

Do you know if they broke all of these findings up by category and severity?

Professors have too much control over grad students and academic labs are too insulated from the greater institution. Profs have basically no oversight on how the treat and/or pay grad students. Any institution serious about tackling this and many other issues needs to reform the employment relationship with grad students. Grad student funding should not be coming from one professor's grant money, but the department.

Independence in scientific direction? Yes. Independence in personnel management? No.

Yes, this is the real problem, not just in science but in virtually every industry. What you have are stove-pipe organizations [1] where individuals (a) have a single superior or "boss" that they "direct report" to (b) that boss decides the individual's fate (salary, bonus, promotion, etc) and (c) reviews of performance and feedback only flow downwards. Science may be the among the worst of such organizations because you've got department heads who wield near tyrannical power over faculty (at least until tenure is achieved) and then you've got advisors wielding tyrannical power over grads.

There's a fundamental organizational change that needs to happen within universities...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stovepipe_(organisation)

Everywhere I'm familiar with the graduate student pay scale is set at the departmental level

Even at places where the pay scale is set at the departmental level, professors have discretion on whether they want to pay you over the summer. That's 1/4 of your salary.

Also, funding comes straight from the professor. If your advisor decides they don't have funding, you're out of luck and working on the side, unless your department is nice enough to give you a teaching assistant job.

I sure it varies, but at my university the supervisior is obligated to pay the difference between what the department paid and what was promised in the offer letter.

Consider yourself lucky.

<<Independence in scientific direction? Yes. Independence in personnel management? No.>>

Is this possible?

It's hard. Bosses can (and should) be able to fire for poor performance, but then an abusive boss can invent a "performance" reason to fire an underling for resisting harassment. And it does happen, all the time, which leads to a lot of underreporting of harassment, for fear of getting fired. It's no different from the need for whistleblower laws, really.

A heavy, bureaucratic firing process protects underlings (somewhat) from abusive bosses, but at a cost of protecting incompetence. You'll see this in any big corporation, and a great many academic jobs as well.

The whole idea of tenure in academia is to protect academics from retaliation so they can speak freely. But their lab assistants and secretaries and such get no such protection.

With regard to firing grad students:

I think it is quite rare to see grad students fired. Typically there are two strategies to get rid of a graduate student:

1) Just graduate them (either with a masters or with a undeserved PhD)

2) Make their lives miserable so they quit.

I don't think switching the source of funding for graduate to the department really prevents either of these from happening.

Maybe, but it makes it a lot easier to transfer to a different lab. It's also part of a cultural frame of mind. In broad strokes, here are two approaches institutions can take to recruiting grad students:

i) Admit tons of grad students, treat them like shit and just assume many will drop out/quit so you don't have to do any long term planning on resources/admissions.

ii) Plan projects and resources, vet candidates and treat grad students well. Attrition will be lower so this does allow for longer term planning. In addition, here the institution and department are involved in the planning/resource allocation and presumably personnel issues as well. In general culture will be professional.

IMO i) gives signals that harassment and other mistreatment is tacitly allowed. With ii) the grad students are valued and signal is given that this should be a professional environment. Another generalization, but I have observed American universities, especially engineering departments are close to i), European universities (some countries more than others) are closer to ii).

Switching funding is different from removing funding. Right now, when a grad student's academic expenses are covered by their work for a specific professor, the professor can revoke that grant - firing them from their work, and also taking away the money that is paying for their grad school (and probably paying their rent as well). If the student is independently wealthy or willing to take on massive additional loans, they might stay in school. More likely, they are forced to drop out or switch programs.

Not to say switching funding to the department is a solution, but a professor's power over the funding is definitely a significant problem and source of great risk for students who are being sexually harassed by their professors.

Why do you think centralised management is going to be any better?

I am an international grad student and a regular commentator on HN here, but as this topic is quite sensitive, I would like to remain anonymous.

I just knew from a first-hand source, a very accomplished PI was suspended just a couple of weeks ago from the job held at a large research institute. He also had appointments at the two largest universities in the same state. The description was that he "stormed out of the building." Apparently, he (white male, eh) employs a number of postdocs from China and apparently made out/had sex with them. It was so ridiculous that there were witnesses of him pushing the postdoc-single mom baby's cart in the park. The reason is described in the article: If the postdocs want good recommendations, they better keep their mouths shut. Oh, and somehow, according to the same source (first-hand), reports of the sexual harassment from the PI was swept under the rug and was mysteriously disappeared before the #meeto movement.

As an international student, I understand how hard it is to change jobs as a student in F-1 visa in here. The visa situation for international students and postdocs made it especially easy to exploit those people. If you get kicked out of the lab you're currently in, you have extremely limited time to find a lab in the same university, otherwise, you will be kicked back to the home country. If you find out that you're not a good fit for the university then you're literally fucked -- you can't be employed, you can't have gap time to find another one. The only way is to find another university who is willing to adopt you first and then transfer. But heck, that's a catch-22: How can you find another university if you don't have a good recommendation?

Personally, I can attest to that visa situation from another angle. I have a very bad taste in my mouth the first week I worked for a public school as a grad student here. So before I entered grad school, I worked for a public educational institution in the US as an OPT student after receiving my bachelor's degree. They were grateful for the extra work I did for them before I departed for grad school, so they offered to pay me some trivial extra amount of money. So, to make sure everything was OK, I called up the international office in the new school to explain the situation. Not waiting for me to finish my sentence, they threatened to deport me because "I told you not to work on anything else when you're on F-1 visa." I was totally disheartened by that response and it literally ruined my whole positive outlook for the grad school for me.


That incident was in the middle of the Obama's 8-year term. I tend to think local-level management has more to do with it than the president. Of course, the current one doesn't help either.

The amount of mismanagement in that school was fascinating to witness. I couldn't be happier seeing the dissatisfaction level in that school was so damn high that the president of that university was protested out of his position by African American students not long after. Not because of me, of course, but when he made the CNN front page, I thought, holy shit for once history happened.

International students are the minority that gets fucked the most when bad people are in charge. We have no rights, we aren't even considered immigrants, we get fucked if we speak up, we get fucked if we don't. Even now, you see, I still have to speak about my experience under a nickname.

Every industry where powerful men are gatekeepers is like this -- some are just higher profile than others. Politics, film, and other high profile industries will be first to be publicized, but it exists everywhere.

And the good news is, like institutions finally learning to recognize good female candidates, we're finally starting to acknowledge that women abuse, molest and rape men, too. [1]

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/11/the-unde...

That’s true, but I’m not sure what it adds to bring up a much smaller-scale problem, although very real, in response. It’s like I said:

“The coal industry is a huge polluter and we’re finally thinking about how to end it.”

And you replied:

“The good news is that we’re also starting to acknowledge that the beekeeping industry creates pollution, too.”

According to this very study there is only an ~30% gap in abuse between men and women.

That doesn't sound much smaller scale.

Yes. Sexual harassment in rife in the... everything.

i don't know whether the gatekeeping is even a necessary component. speaking wrt academia now, even in fields where there is a decent gender balance, sexual harassment seems to be pretty prevalent, as prevalent as in other, less balanced fields. the reason, as mentioned in the article, is probably that oftentimes policies are in place to protect the universities, not the victims.

One factor that distinguishes academia here is that the power imbalance can be far greater compared to employees in a regular company. As a regular employee the worst case is usually just losing your job. A PhD student has much higher stakes, as you're potentially risking years of effort and your degree.

A direct conflict with your adviser is not something you want to risk, as it can easily put you in a terrible situation. You also can't just switch departments or something like that without losing a lot of progress, if it is possible at all.

The way science is structured makes it rather susceptible to abuse by people in authority, and it inherently discourages challenges by PhD students.

> The most common type of sexual harassment is gender harassment, the report finds.

I hate the way these reports misuse language and terminology.

No lay person is going to think gender harassment is sexual harassment.

I thought of that when I read it as well. I wouldn't consider passing over a woman for advancement as "sexual harassment". Fortunately it doesn't matter too much in this case because both kinds of behavior are relevant to the study.

This confused me too. Both are important problems, but I don't know if this categorization makes sense. I think of gender discrimination in the same category as other kinds of discrimination based on race, religion, body characteristics, sexual orientation, etc. It seems odd to lump only gender-based discrimination in with sexual harassment, and none of these others...

They used a legal definition. It makes sense since gender harassment can be an antecedent to sexual harassment.


> It makes sense since gender harassment can be an antecedent to sexual harassment.

A lot of things can be antecedents to sexual harassment.

This categorization obscures instead of illuminating.

For example part of the findings for the study is transgender people are far more likely to face sexual harassment from staff.

This sounds like normal harassment and highly unlikely to become sexual in nature.

The approach you take to stopping this kind of harassment is unlikely to look anything like the approach you take to stop sexual exploitation.

Okay, I agree with some of your vague points, but I don't see anything I can reply to. Hopefully your misunderstanding has been clarified now? - "these reports misuse language and terminology."

> Hopefully your misunderstanding has been clarified now?

I would like to know the use cases to lumping them together in this study/report?

From reading the nature article it doesn't seem like the point of the study was to support a lawsuit - so what purpose does using the legal definition have?

>so what purpose does using the legal definition have?

Because that is the commonly understood definition? Both in the legal and academic world (I can find citations from 1995 but I bet it was used before that). As lay people we do get confused when we don't understand those terms. I know I did, which is why I looked it up.

> Because that is the commonly understood definition?

It didn't come from general use by the population.

At some point academia decided to use a definition that deviated from the mainstream.

Certain fields of academia have a long history of doing this and it has led to millions of average people being mis-informed.

> As lay people we do get confused when we don't understand those terms.

Yes even the well educated hn reader gets confused - and so how do we fix this?

Either we have to fix academia or we have to fix reporting on academia.

Especially because the majority of the population does not have the education or time necessary to properly investigate for themselves.

Propaganda by any other name...

I've found that the average hn reader vastly overstretches their expertise. Its unfair to expect programmers to be subject matter experts in anything other than their own domain. I take most comments here on politics/science/economics/etc with a bit of humor.

In this case, I don't think it's THAT complicated to explain what the term means to the average person. The definition of terms can sometimes be intuited, but intuition can be wrong and lay people should not necessarily be the arbiters of definitions of terms. My co-worker refers to their hard disk storage space as "computer RAM". We know what they meant as opposed to what they said and can work around it.

Can someone please justify the downvotes?

Who here thinks that all sexism is sexual harassment? And why?

If I say to a woman "women are not capable of being good scientists" why is that sexual harassment as opposed to plain old sexism?

Isn't sexual harassment rife pretty much everywhere? When you listen to what both men and women have really been subjected to, it's just sad and the prevalence is honestly depressing to me. I even have worked with people who think they're not the type to sexually harass and then see them engaging the behavior unknowingly (basically in denial).

The paper goes into a lot more detail. There are recommendations that have been made that are not being followed. The paper also puts forward some new recommendations based on the types of abuse they found.

> Isn't sexual harassment rife pretty much everywhere?

I wondered the same thing, but a few comments in this thread highlight why postdocs are generally more trapped than employees.

Paraphrasing other comments:

A PhD student conflicting with their advisor is risking years of effort and their degree. You also can't just switch departments without losing a lot of progress (if it is possible at all).

"If the postdocs want good recommendations, they better keep their mouths shut".

Many postdocs are international students. It is very hard to change jobs as a student on a F-1 visa.

Sorry if this sounds totally naive, but how exactly does someone not know they're sexually harassing someone? If you're propositioning someone, making lewd comments, etc., then how do you not know that that constitutes sexual harassment?

I don't mean this in any way to dismiss sexual harassment as a non-entity, but in some cases, the difference between flirting and sexual harassment basically entirely comes down to the level of interest that the recipient has. If they're into the perpetrator, it's flirting. If they're not, it's harassment. Given that, surely you can imagine that evolution would favor men who overestimate the degree to which their advances are viewed as favorable by the recipient.

That's what confused me about those people too.

I think the first step is shine a big, bright light on it at least. #metoo definitely started doing that.

If anyone is interested in solutions, Frank Dobbin, a professor of sociology at Harvard that studies the effectiveness of anti sexual harassment programs has some interesting conclusions here:

> The worst news is probably that men who are hostile to women to begin with do not improve with training. Men who score high on “likely harasser” and “gender role conflict” scales are the most likely to have adverse reactions to training

> In an unpublished paper on diversity training, we find that mandatory training reduces actual workforce diversity and voluntary training increases it. It looks like forcible training of people who are hostile to the training message may backfire.

> Workplace gender equity is still our best bet for reducing harassment, but progress on equity has stalled in the corporate world and on the faculty.


Talking about sexual harassment, I have just read an article at https://www.lemberglaw.com/what-is-workplace-sexual-harassme... about this matter. I think sexual harassment is a very old crime, but we don't care about this problem. Thanks to some movements such as #MeToo which have helped many people to start speaking up about this.

Sexual harassment is rife everywhere. Every failed attempt at seduction could be considered harassment. But none of us would be here if our parents didn't try it.

It would seem like tenure (making it hard to fire people) compounds this problem.

I think that's less likely than you suggest - of course, tenure was originally intended to encourage academic freedom, to allow scholars to publish and teach without fear of being fired for having non-mainstream ideas. But tenure policies always include some conditions for dismissal 'for cause'[1], which includes immoral behavior.

1: https://www.aaup.org/issues/appointments-promotions-discipli...

Tenure does not protect you from being fired for things like inappropriate behaviour.

Doesn’t it make it harder? Look at recent Stanford scandals.

No, they can still fire you for incompetance, discipline, or if they can't afford you


Tenure simply means 'without limit of time'. That's all it means.


Seeing Nature reporting this as news feels to me a bit like watching Captain Louis Renault telling ‎Rick Blaine:

"I am shocked -- shocked! -- to find that gambling is going on in here!"[a]

Still, it's progress.

[a] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjbPi00k_ME

> Landmark US Study!

> Just take our word for it, or else pay $60 for the report itself.

Can we please stop doing this shit?

Thanks for finding a direct link. Maybe you can post it as a top-level comment so others can more easily see it.

Looks like you can download for free as a "guest" but you need to give them an email address (maybe get a throwaway).

The "Download free PDF" button might require email (I didn't try it), but the "Read Online" button just pops up the doc with no further info required.

Either way, it's only $60 if you want a print copy, apparently.

Sure, but at that point isn't this nature article basically an advertisement for that report?

Isn't every Nature article an advertisement for a scientific report you might have to pay for to get in print?

It's free to read. The button is right there on their page.

I honestly didn't realize how bad this site is until I clicked around a bit and saw all the paywall stuff. I always thought they were scholarly articles, appears not.

Articles from scholarly journals usually cost money. Nature of the beast for narrow-interest publishing with no advertiser support. The fact that Nature links to the source articles is a big plus in my book.

Wasn't there a thing called Gamergate related to that a few years back? I only followed it from afar, but best I can recollect it seemed like there was a lot more to sexism in gaming than just within the industry itself.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17306452 and marked it off-topic.

Gamergate was largely an attack on women in gaming. What we know of as Gamergate was largely started by a supposed incident in which a woman had sex with a video game reporter, and at some point that reporter mentioned or did a review of one of her games - the focus being more of an attack on her than the reviewer, of course. This incident, of course, never actually occurred - it was made up by a romantic partner of hers, as it turns out the reporter in question never actually mentioned or reviewed her after the sex was meant to have occurred.

From what I remember, she slept with multiple reviewers, and the whole thing became public when her boyfriend at the time complained online about being cheated on; I also remember there being quite a bit of controversy over the general illegitimatecy of game reviews, and that both parties were attacking each other on totally different arguments. The pro-gamergates claiming it was about corruption of the industry, and the anti-gamergates claiming it was an attack on women in video games.

Thats what I understood from my far-away vantage point, at least. But its difficult to imagine it was just the latter; there's not enough sexism in gaming for it to blow up so easily, I think. (She was hardly the first woman in gaming to operate unethically).

> she slept with multiple reviewers

That's a false accusation.

What actually happened was that an angry ex-boyfriend accused her of sleeping with a gaming journalist to get positive reviews. No such positive reviews ever happened. The journalist in question made a single off-handed mention of one of her games (in a non-review context) before they'd ever actually met in person.

>That's a false accusation.

The phrase you're looking for is "unfounded accusation". Unless you are the woman in question or you were stalking her 24/7, you can't falsify it.

I am reasonably confident calling it flatly false at this point, given the absurd amount of fine-detail combing over of Zoe Quinn's life done by her harrassers that's still never come up with anything real to present.

It's neither of those things. It's not the accusation that was made at all; the original claim was that she slept with a reviewer who gave her game positive coverage. The entire gaming press debunked this based on the technicality that it wasn't actually a review, but that wasn't the claim that was going around. Supposedly they also weren't technically in that kind of relationship until shortly after the press coverage, but that went down less well as a counter-argument for obvious reasons.

(This also wasn't the focus of the original blog post at all. To cut a decades-long story short, the reason that particular aspect caught people's attention was because there were a whole bunch of people who already very strongly distrusted the entire gaming press for reasons entirely unrelated to women. Then Reddit started shadowbanning anyone who mentioned the journo's name, hosters were pressured to shut down sites which covered it, the entire gaming press declared gamers as a whole misogynistic scum over it, and every escalation fanned the flames more in typical Streisand-effect fashion. In fact I don't think it was even mentioned in the blog at all, but I could be wrong.)

It may have been before they met in person but they had been very friendly with each other. So much in fact that the journalist had beta tested the game for her and was put in the credits for doing so.


There is no evidence that anybody reviewed her after she slept with them, let alone that they were biased by it.

Her boyfriend mentions multiple incidences of cheating in the post, but only one appears to be with a reviewer.


People can be video game reviewers without reviewing any specific video game.

Since entertainment reviews across every industry have by and large become another component in whitewashed marketing, it's not really much of a distinction to make between tacit promotion by a reviewer and their review.

When Weinstein told casting directors that actresses that rebuffed him were difficult to work with and promoted to films of those that didn't, I'm sure his biases weren't as transparent in light of his professional reputation. Was that not a breach of ethics on multiple fronts?

I’m not entirely sure what you’re on about - barely anyone went after Nathan Grayson after the reveal of the alleged incident. Isn’t he the one who supposedly breached reviewing ethics through some mythical article?

Gamergate went after Kotaku and tried to get them to do something about Nathan Grayson's conduct.


At some point one of Kotaku's editors(maybe, its been a while) stated that there were no ethical violations.

Gamergate then worked to boycott Kotaku and get advertisers to move away from the site.

There was a single case of a journalist who mentioned one of Zoe Quinn's games in an article... before they had ever actually met. I fail to see the ethical breach there.

It wasn't just an ethical breach, it was a felony. And he is now being investigated for rape in NYC and LA, and being sued for breach of contract and various other torts.

A great many people in Hollywood began to ignore Weinstein's claims after they became public (to the industry) knowledge, though this was unfortunately too late for some of his earlier victims like Asia Argento and Annabella Sciorra.

Whoever or however many people she's slept with is also very much between her and her partners -- bringing it out into the public is a boundary overstep and violation of her privacy.

Slut-shaming is a bad thing and we would all do well to move past it asap.

If she's sleeping around with people who have nothing to do with the gaming industry, then sure, it's irrelevant. If she's sleeping with game reviewers who then review her games, it looks like a quid pro quo situation. Of course, there doesn't seem to be any good evidence this actually happened from what I read, but if it were true, then it's not slut-shaming.

I'm afraid you've been lied to. There's some details in my other post. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17306626

>Gamergate was largely an attack on women in gaming.

That's completely wrong. While there are always trolls and bigots lurking everywhere, the vast majority of people were protesting the forced censorship of games by those who found them "offensive" or "not inclusive enough". The whole brouhaha was a microcosm of the ongoing debate that many are having in this country about free speech. There are many who want to eliminate free speech and pass "hate speech" laws that ban and/or criminalize speech that some find offensive. Some of us believe that in a free society people have the right to be offensive, bigoted, racist, or despicable in a wide variety of ways that we don't agree with. By extension we also believe that people should be able to make any games they choose to make, whether we find them offensive or not.

To suggest that the targeted harassment of women (and the complete avoidance of significantly targeting anybody else) was the result of “a small minority of trolls” who didn’t have the support of everybody using that banner is laughable, especially given that GamerGate had an explicit start with the harassment of a woman.

To suggest that Gamergate was about the "targeted harassment of women" and not censorship in gaming is a complete mischaracterization of the issue - one that has been repeatedly pushed by those on the pro-censorship side.

So... exactly why did women come under significantly more harassment than men during the GamerGate debacle, as evidenced by various newspapers during the event? Nathan Grayson, the person who was meant to have committed the ethical violation of writing about someone he had slept with, received a fraction of the harassment that the woman he had slept with did.

And of course none of that has anything to do with free speech issues - but it’s verifiably the start of when the #GamerGate hashtag was used. So somehow the movement supposedly entirely swivelled from ethics in video game journalism to being pro free speech at some undefined point, while its targets shared a common characteristic?

If that is true, you should be able to point to articles or statements where game developers advocated censorship.

I've talked to Brianna Wu. I've followed her work. She has never advocated censorship.

What does Brianna Wu have to do with GamerGate? AFAIK she was a target because of her being a controversial character, not anything GamerGate-related.

Well, she was targeted by GamerGate. Lots of people who were not involved in the original drama were targeted later.

> the forced censorship of games by those who found them "offensive" or "not inclusive enough".

This is false. No one proposed censorship. They proposed and created new games that were more inclusive. In doing this, they also criticized mainstream games. The narrative of censorship was invented by GamerGate.

And clearly, their version of events was so compelling that others repeat it as fact.

The other side is that this "developer" made a game of questionable quality, which received a suspiciously good review, and when the gaming community dared to question the integrity of this review, the entire incident became symbolic of the typical kind of false, weponized victimhood characteristic of Anita Sarkeesan et al.. Suddenly any criticism levied at women in gaming development or gaming journalism is immediately sexist, regardless of merit.

There is a clear conflict of interest when reviewers are sleeping with developers. Calling attention to this fact is not an attack on women or any such nonsense.

What suspiciously good review? The reviewer who she was accused of sleeping with never reviewed her game.

There was an intentional misinformation campaign regarding her in order to suggest that the harassment was in some way OK.

> a suspiciously good review

I'm sure you can provide a link and evidence of the "suspicious" part, right?

> The other side is that this "developer" made a game of questionable quality, which received a suspiciously good review

This is false. Details here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17306626

Gamergate was a movement for "integrity in gaming journalism" that actually ended up mostly being about (a) harrassing female journalists and female industry figures under false pretenses and (b) vigorously whining whenever journalistic figures dared to treat games as art instead of being the nth repeat of Nintendo Power-style "journalism".

You'll get a bunch of posts on this topic, but I guess if people repeat a lie often enough and with a big enough megaphone it becomes "the truth" because the majority of their information on the topic comes from the media spouting "the truth".

If you want any sort of unbiased responses on this topic you can't look at it from afar or from responses (including mine) - it will actually require some independent research and a willingness to read both sides.

I see stuff like this posted all the time and I start to feel like I'm taking crazy pills. I was there when Gamergate started. I read the original post by Quinn's boyfriend. I followed what happened in the next 4-6 months with unhealthy obsession. I even had several debates on Twitter with people who professed to be concerned about ethics in journalism.

My conclusion: there is little to no evidence of the kind of collusion that was alleged by gamergate. Indeed, most of the corruption that was (and still is) out there was big name publishers inviting reviewers to lavish review events or blacklisting reviewers that give unfavorable scores - something gamergate seemed to care little about. Not an indie developer sleeping his/her way to the top.

Gamergate also seemed to fundamentally misunderstand the purpose and form of games criticism - frequently demanding "objective" reviews. As if that's something that's possible or even desirable in an artistic medium.

Finally, at some point the whole movement was co-opted by reactionary and conservative commentators whose agenda had nothing to do with gaming and everything to do with pushing traditional gender roles and anti-SJW mania. Basically the "PC police" complaints from 15 years ago transplanted into a new host community that was ripe for it.

>Indeed, most of the corruption that was (and still is) out there was big name publishers inviting reviewers to lavish review events or blacklisting reviewers that give unfavorable scores - something gamergate seemed to care little about.

Which is the majority of what I saw only weeks after the initial episode. Although it took the movement a few months before realizing that mainstream media outlets were going to lock step with the media outlets being criticized instead of independently researching at all. It's easier for me to cite a source that cites its sources than simply parrot them here [0] [1]. The blacklisting/censoring reviewers is also mentioned quite frequently ,on Twitter, at least. Not sure about on Deepfreeze.

>Gamergate also seemed to fundamentally misunderstand the purpose and form of games criticism - frequently demanding "objective" reviews. As if that's something that's possible or even desirable in an artistic medium.

There is a place for critics, who develop their palettes of tastes, and review games based on that. You can find a critic you tend to agree with and hold their opinions with more weight. The problem surfaces when the critics all have the same (social) biases and aren't reviewing the game itself so much as they are reviewing the game as a form of media from a social commentary slant. Especially when the community doesn't give a shit about the social commentary slant and wants to know about the game. (Which is why Gamergate quickly devolved into a culture war - which is when I stopped following the movement as closely.)

But I disagree with your second point. You can create an objectively bad and poorly designed game. Riddled with bugs with little to no thought of how game mechanics should interact with one another. Throw in a jarring, repetitive soundtrack and poorly written dialogue/story full of typos. If you were able to picture what would be considered a completely trash game with no redeeming factors - you're certainly capable of doing the opposite.

This will be my last post on HN regarding this thread. If you'd like to continue discussion (although discussion around #GG tends to be quite fruitless as anyone with an opinion on it has long since chosen their side) you're free to email me or contact me through any other means I list on my website, found on my profile.

[0] http://www.deepfreeze.it/ethics.php?s=Corruption

[1] http://www.deepfreeze.it/ethics.php?s=Cronyism

Interesting. I was there at the beginning, too, and like you I followed it in detail. My view is that, from the beginning, Quinn's supporters turned it into an anti-(stereotypical)gamer culture war.

The GameJournosPro mailing list and multiple articles with nearly identical spin coming out on the same day are pretty good evidence of collusion.

I strongly encourage anyone still interested in the topic to watch some of Christina Hoff Sommers videos about it. She demonstrates that it is possible to discuss the actual issues without demonizing one's opponents.

People see what they want to see unfortunately. I guarantee that if you ask the majority of the people here what the BlackLivesMatter movement is, they'll bring up the peaceful protests and activism of the black community and not the riots and widespread arson that also occurred. Same thing here: they'll focus on the small minority of people that personally attacked Quinn et al instead of the larger issue of a corrupt industry.

not the riots and widespread arson that also occurred

Cites needed. The only results claiming BLM-related arsons and riots are online zines known to be fronts for white nationalist movements.

Edit: As a followup, a number of white supremacists set fires and framed the BLM for those fires, but were subsequently caught and are in various stages of the criminal justice process.

Don't know what you're talking about. Go on YouTube and just search blacklivesmatter riots. There's dozens of news reports and firsthand accounts of this in numerous cities.

There was, and like so many other things these days, it's pointless listening to partisan summaries. If you want to know, dig and read the source material.

look up gamejournospro on Google. gamergate would have not existed if not for a bunch of "journalists" colluding in a private mailing list, more interested in pushing intersectional activism than reporting news. one cant insult its audience and the expect the latter not to rebel against that. "gamers are dead" / "gamers don't have to be your audience" is what led the divorce between the gaming press and half its readers.

off course these "journalists" caught red handed are not going to report on their misdeeds. they'll quote tweets then claim they are victim of the internet mob.

> gamejournospro


The "controversial" content was a single message to a politically neutral industry mailing list suggesting an open letter of support for Zoe Quinn in the face of harrassment, which was rejected by the other members of the mailing list as inappropriate for journalists.


Here is a link from a neutral source instead of one of the people who was accused of collusion.

The passages quoted there are considerably less incendiary than the text surrounding them claims, e.g. the very first one concludes that they shouldn't use their professional sites to fight harassment, only their personal accounts. Fighting against lies and harassment is not "pushing an agenda and silencing one side of the issue"--and I want to remind you, again, that the corruption allegations against Quinn are provably lies.

Regardless, in the worst case, since the GameJournoPros mailing list has not been publicly released that I'm aware of, your source and mine are equally cherry-picking to support their views.

You should be aware, however, that the source of your cherry-picks is Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo has, ironically, also been implicated in organizing journalists to push a narrative, only his journalist friends are literal, self-described Nazis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milo_Yiannopoulos#Leaked_Breit... So I would be very, very wary of taking him at face value on any subject involving women or politics.

As far as I know there were no corruption accusations against Zoe, they were against Nathan Grayson.

Zoe was just accused of being a horrible person afik.

I too would be interested to see the full text of the list.

the author of that article himself is a member of that mailing list.

you can't find a more biased source. can you?

check deepfreeze the web site.

Sort of, though probably not in the way you might think. Gamergate's basically dead but a few of its more vocal supporters still keep track of when its higher-profile male opponents fall from grace due to accusations of sexual harassment, abuse and rape. There have been quite a few now. Some are even in jail.

That is one side of it.

Just for the record: GamerGate was 100% founded on harassing women. The "ethics in games journalism" thing was only ever a front to build popular support, which unfortunately worked. I'm happy to post more details if you're unconvinced.

If you're legitimately concerned about journalistic ethics in the gaming world (which is a real thing), you should really avoid the "GamerGate" moniker as much as possible.

EDIT: My vote total is bouncing up and down like a rubber ball, so I'll just go ahead and post the details I mentioned.

GamerGate was founded around an incident where Eron Gjoni made a blog post accusing his girlfriend Zoe Quinn, who makes free video games, of cheating on him with several men, whom he named. Most of them were also game developers. One of them, Nathan Grayson, was a games journalist. He once wrote an article with a single paragraph about one of Quinn's games, released (by Gjoni's timeline) months before he allegedly slept with Quinn.

This narrative somehow became "women developers everywhere are sleeping with writers to promote their shitty games and it's destroying gaming and must be stopped." This wasn't even an accusation Gjoni made; it was a conclusion jumped to by his readers.

Ethics in games journalism is a legitimate issue. Major publishers have been buying good reviews with cash and perks for almost as long as there's been a gaming industry. No one's ever cared enough to make a lasting fuss about that. It wasn't until a woman who writes tiny, free games was accused falsely of buying good reviews that the cry of corruption went up. I think that illustrates firmly what the real priorities were here.

Some well-meaning people have taken GamerGate's message at face value and been motivated to expose actual ethical issues. That's laudable, but doing it under the GamerGate banner devalues the entire message.

EDIT AGAIN: crooked-v's post and link about the controversy around the GamesJournosPros mailing list is also valuable. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17306791

Wait, all you've suggested is that the movement began by means of an incorrect conclusion; but you havent shown anything regarding the rest of your claim: if those participating believed in the mistaken conclusion, and were enraged by that conclusion (the game journalism ethics part of it), then it wouldn't make any sense to describe it as "100% founded on harassing women".

Your proof is not at all sufficient for your claim

gamergate was not a thing till people decided to link two groups together. The second group is a group of assholes who like to harass women or really anyone on the internet they don't like. Nobody is going to defend them here, and there isn't a way for the first group to NOT be linked with them since news articles keep linking the two for obvious sensational reasons.

>Just for the record: GamerGate was 100% founded on harassing women.

>Some well-meaning people have taken GamerGate's message at face value and been motivated to expose actual ethical issues. That's laudable, but doing it under the GamerGate banner devalues the entire message.

You seem to have back pedaled from your original absurd claim. That's progress I guess.


Its hard to find any neutral source that aggregates all the factual information. Does this website cover everything? Do you have an alternate source?


> You seem to have back pedaled from your original absurd claim.

Not at all. The GamerGate movement began with people looking to punish Quinn for her infidelity, and people who already hated her game jumped on the bandwagon to invent conspiracy theories to explain why it was well-reviewed. These people jumped to the demonstrably false conclusion that she had traded sex for reviews, and that narrative, unfortunately, went mainstream, and caught the attention of people who legitimately cared about journalistic ethics and weren't aware of the previous facts.

And that's still continuing--you see a lot of well-meaning people in this thread who are still not aware how much of the sex-for-reviews narrative and the GameJournoPros narrative are outright lies.

> Its hard to find any neutral source that aggregates all the factual information. Does this website cover everything? Do you have an alternate source?

That site may work as a timeline, but whatever your position, I think we can agree that GamerGate's own wiki is not an unbiased source.

I don't believe that because someone holds a different point of view, they automatically lack integrity.

"GamerGate" wasn't about anything in the sense that there were no goals, leadership, or organization. It's a lot like the "Alt-Right", it's a movement that only exists because the media reported that it did.

And yet, they performed targeted attacks against a number of prominent women in the games industry, so much that these women had to relocate multiple times for fear of their personal safety.

Interestingly, the FBI got confessions from some of the attackers, and decided not to prosecute. http://www.businessinsider.com/gamergate-fbi-file-2017-2

Just because they didn't have a central organization, doesn't change the fact that it was a movement that caused a lot of damage. In fact, there's a parallel with the Alt-Right.

Many terrorist organizations operate with individual cells who work independently, so that they can't implicate each other. I'd still call that an organization.

> Many terrorist organizations operate with individual cells who work independently, so that they can't implicate each other. I'd still call that an organization.

I'd argue there's a more interesting parallel with political terrorist organizations: they often start out as non-violent groups until subsections radicalize over time, therefore attracting a set of new members who further radicalize the group. Think Hamas, PKK, etc.

It's pointless to argue whether GamerGate was about "ethics in journalism" because there's the set of people who care about that and the set of people who like to threaten women over the internet, and it's not clear which one are "GamerGate" and which ones aren't.

I know of at least one gamergate meetup that had a bomb threat called on it. https://kotaku.com/gamergate-meetup-evacuated-after-apparent...

Would it be fair to paint the critics of gamergate with the same brush?

My best advice is to look at the majority of the people and see how they act, then make your own judgements.

Modern day internet "activism" basically, and a legacy of the Anonymous circus.

>Just because they didn't have a central organization, doesn't change the fact that it was a movement that caused a lot of damage. In fact, there's a parallel with the Alt-Right.

Nobody is disputing the facts. The problem comes when people take disparate facts and weave a narrative that supports their own beliefs without any supporting evidence.

>Many terrorist organizations operate with individual cells who work independently, so that they can't implicate each other. I'd still call that an organization.

Only because they have a shared goal. There is no shared goal in gamer gate. The thing called "gamer gate" was filled with crazy and non-crazy people with wildly differing goals and beliefs.

It's entirely possible that the guy the FBI declined to prosecute is this guy: https://www.theverge.com/2015/2/24/8099531/gamergate-jace-co... Roughly the right area and description. In any case, he's a good example of the problem with the whole Gamergate harassment narrative.

Minor details like him not actually being part of Gamergate in any way and his videos being obvious jokes didn't stop the media reporting this as an example of Gamergate death threats against women. Meanwhile, in actual non-media reality Gamergate was split between people who thought his jokes were distasteful but not actually harassment and those who considered them over the line. Then when it became clear he was a fictional character, the narrative changed to one where Gamergate were now threatening him because they'd discovered he didn't really support their harassment of women. Of course, the Gamergate position all along was that he obviously wasn't serious, the fact it was like harassment made him unpopular, and it was still that other internet community sending death threats and harassment. (A community, if I'm remembering rightly, which went out their way to go after a bunch of Gamergate supporters for taking a stand against their harassment.)

The most important thing to understand about Gamergate is this: the entire media (and social media) anti-harassment campaign of the time was primarily about attacking Gamergate and criticism of the game critics in general. Everything else fell by the wayside. All the groups actually doing the harassment went unmentioned. The most powerful, long lasting meme to come out of this fight, "It's about ethics in games journalism", was entirely about crushing the idea that games journalism has ethics problems. About discrediting criticism of games journalism, not stopping harassment or death threats or anything like that.

(The second most important thing to understand is that the media coverage attracted a bunch of hangers-on who wouldn't otherwise have had anything to do with it, and some of them were exactly the kind of people you'd expect to be attracted by that kind of coverage.)

A group is defined by its members. Thousands of harassers claimed to be acting for GamerGate. You can't sweep that under the rug just because there was no formal leader.

> Just for the record: GamerGate was 100% founded on harassing women. The "ethics in games journalism" thing was only ever a front to build popular support, which unfortunately worked. I'm happy to post more details if you're unconvinced.

GamerGate wasn't coordinated enough and lacked the centralized leadership to have been "founded" for a purpose or be a "front" to achieve specific clandestine goals.

From what I gather, it was sort of like Occupy Wall Street in that there was really no there there besides a vague ethos shared by the people who took up its flag to pursue their disparate pet causes.

Saying that GamerGate lacked leadership is wrong. It had multiple important figureheads that directed the movement over time, starting with Eron who turned a personal affair into an open-internet vendetta under the guise of 'ethics in video games' (of which the reviews and corruption people claim simply does not exist).

It blew up from there as many people became leaders of multiple subsections of GamerGate, many of whom we see today in the alt-right parts of the internet which I am sure is entirely coincidental. The difference between Occupy Wall Street and GamerGate is that GamerGate rallied behind multiple different leaders which would push the the movement towards various directions. This was all stuff I saw from personal experience.

Eron posted a blog post venting about how his ex-girlfriend who was being held up as a feminist success story had treated him in an abusive manner as well as cheated on him.

He did nothing to direct Gamergate, most of what I saw him post in the early days was trying to put the cat back in the bag.

Both of those statements would be objectively wrong. The first being that not only did he shop around the story at multiple places, but he ended up posting it on 4chan and the like because he knew it would be the perfect place to incite trolls. He was banned from multiple forums due to posting his rants.

The second was that he was constantly active in various chat channels encouraging and pushing the movement forward while lying about his claims that he was trying to back away from it.

That is interesting, I didn't know that Eron posted it on 4Chan. Any evidance for that? I know it first went out on Tumbler and was posted to SA and Penny Arcade: https://actionagogo.com/2014/09/09/a-narrative-of-gamergate-...


I would also be interested in seeing any logs of Eron in the chat servers, I was never on those so I only saw what was posted to Reddit.


This blogpost from 2014 has multiple examples of Eron posting under a trip on 4chan as well IRC logs.

Thank you, I was there in the beginning and I had seen the nastiness on both sides. I don't see where it was Eron who originally posted on 4chan but it does look like he did respond to the 4chan thread.

The author of that post says that Eron abused Zoe but has not provided any evidence, do you know of anything to back that up? All the evidence that Eron posted was never denied by Zoe afik.

> (of which the reviews and corruption people claim simply does not exist).

It is a well known fact that game companies pay people to write positive reviews.

One example (Microsoft): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeHjN4oWVfk

Yes, that aspect of corruption I agree exists.

However, that was not the claims of corruption and reviews made during the course of GamerGate (ie that Zoe had slept with reviewers for positive coverage). None of GamerGate dealt with the actual issues of corporate influence on reviews and the policies thereof.


Now, is the rest of the statement true?

> Now, is the rest of the statement true?

No, clearly not. There are a lot more problems with the paragraph than can be solved by a simple substitution.

The root problem is that it's very hard (almost impossible) to make statements about the whole of an uncoordinated, loosely defined group that are both specific and true. Also, when you think you can easily make such statements, it probably doesn't mean that you're right but rather your thinking is being driven by biases and group-prejudice.

Apologies for pointing out that it might not be as black and white as the above poster stated.

That's the narrative that one side of the controversy pushed (and some are still pushing). It's a lot more complicated than that, with plenty of bad actors claiming to be on the side of the angels and a lot of 4chan trolls stirring the pot.

If you want more information than you'll really be able to read, check out the FAQs on Reddit's r/KotakuInAction. Before buying into the above mentioned narrative, you might want to learn more about how the GameJournoPros mailing list was involved and which side received credible bomb threats. Christina Hoff Sommers has some good YouTube videos about it (i.e. https://youtu.be/5RVlCvBd21w).

This is a major issue with some online "progressives" who are incapable of any nuance about it. Be warned if you want to have a rational conversation.

> 4chan trolls

> r/KotakuInAction

These are basically the same people under different identities. There was also a "secret" irc channel coordinating the harassment.

> credible bomb threats

Did the police ever untangle any of this? I can see http://uk.businessinsider.com/gamergate-fbi-file-2017-2 and http://uk.businessinsider.com/ethan-ralph-gamergate-leader-a...

Check out this one: https://www.polygon.com/2015/8/16/9161311/bomb-threat-shuts-... There was another at a restaurant where some Gamergaters were having a party.

KotakuInAction is an alt-right cesspool. It contributed to the rise of breitbart, and Milo Yannopolis got famous by writing articles about gamergate targetted to their audience.

That assessment reveals more about your personal politics than it does about that subreddit.

Like I said above, there are a number of self-styled "progressives" online who are unable to have a rational discussion on this topic.

I speak as someone who checked it occasionally during the whole debacle - gamergate quickly became a referendum on feminism and women's place in the games industry, and I was disgusted by what I read, so I stopped going there.

If it is a referendum on woman place then why are feminists like Christina Marie Hoff Sommers accepted?


We've banned this account for persistent trolling.

With one of the major contributors to the paper being 'Committee on the Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academic Science, Engineering, and Medicine'[1] who only get paid because sexual harassment exists surely can never have an agenda in proving such a thing exists.

In a follow up study, we could go and ask the labour unions how much benefit they give to the average worker. Surprise finding! Labour unions benefit all workers immensely, and they benefit workers who pay the most in membership fees. And then we can follow up with a study by dentists on how regularly you should visit your dentist (hint: it's more often than you think!)

[1] https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24994/sexual-harassment-of-women...

That’s a completely absurd argument. By that reasoning nothing can be done to study any problem.

We should probably keep doing studies to check how dentists think we should brush our teeth. We just shouldn't have dentists do a study on a variable that directly harms their income as we would already know the results they would give before the study is even done.

If you wanted a study on that variable, you'd likely need to at least get input from someone who says going to dentists is a bad idea - but at that point, you're just going to have a shouting match and a statistics measuring contest between the dentists and the guy who doesn't think anybody should see dentists. Your results would likely be contradictory and fairly useless.

We haven't yet found a way to do such studies in a useful manner, and it's an ongoing problem in politics that has yet to have a solution. And may never have a solution. And it's very important to be able to determine when such study variables align with the financial and ideological requirements of the researcher.

If you can tell without doubt what the result of a study by a certain group will be before the study takes place, it's usually a red flag.

I think your examples make your conclusions less likely, not more.

* Dentists, in particular, would secure more work if they organised and actively promoted dental practices that they knew were harmful. Nevertheless, that doesn't occur.

* Doctors as a group, similarly might stand to benefit from drawing out a disease for longer. Despite this, it is an absurd and baseless claim to make of doctors as a group, though presumably some unethical individuals might on occasion. An individual from a different year my medical school was recently charged with murder; this doesn't have me in a crisis over the legitimacy of the profession.

I note however it is a valid and compelling argument to make against pharmaceutical companies -which do have a theoretical financial incentive to pursue non-curative remedies over curative ones (guiding research priorities, and/or attempts to lessen the cost of production of known curative remedies), and this is followed by multiple documented examples showing this occurring in practice.

Among clinicians actually having to face sick people in person, this behaviour seems to be extremely rare.


Regarding your specific example about "asking dentists how often to brush your teeth", there is in fact quite a healthy debate between dentist organizations and medical organisations - the former arguing that 3x per day is best for dental health, while (some) medical organizations argue that 2x per day is a better balance between dental health specifically, versus the added risk to general health of harmful bacteria entering the bloodstream from minor cuts on gums caused by brushing. In that debate, it is instructive to note that neither dentists nor doctors organisations accuse the other of acting in bad faith. In this instance, asking dentists as a group how often to brush your teeth is actually a quite sound idea, and the idea that they provide self-serving answers is comically absurd; if anything their current published guidelines on this question is too good for your dental health, at (very slight possibility) the expense of your general health.

For a more in-depth discussion of research and abuses of research on questions of health, I heartily recommend "Bad Science" (2008) by Ben Goldacre. One chapter is available free online here [1].

[1] https://www.badscience.net/2009/04/matthias-rath-steal-this-...

Or... you could not pay your committee so they're not incentivized to find positive results.

Yes but must we always have Big Tobacco funding tobacco studies, Big Beer funding alcohol studies, etc.? It makes your publication reek of bias.


Great point! The question is, why do you think they take 'extra offense'? What about the structure of their lives would train them to recognize offense?

Also, why is the solution 'women and minorities need to toughen up' (If that's not the intended reading of your comment, feel free to clarify)? Why isn't it, "if you want an inclusive culture where some people aren't feeling attacked, then let's not attack people."? The male oriented culture does not have to be interpreted as the default/normal/only-sensible culture.

> Also, why is the solution 'women and minorities need to toughen up' (If that's not the intended reading of your comment, feel free to clarify)?

That's not the sole solution, no. But that's still part of the solution. If a woman or black man feels attacked for their gender/color even when anonymous... that means they've been conditioned to take offense by default and we need to figure out how to remove said conditioning as the default response.

My point is that getting negative feedback on an assignment, for example, is not necessarily sexual harassment. If the negative feedback specifically calls out gender, then yes, but I'm afraid a lot of these cases are just women being offended that they got negative feedback even if they would have gotten the same feedback had the assignment been submitted anonymously. Then again, I haven't read the publication.

Let me repeat my question:

""" The question is, why do you think they take 'extra offense'? What about the structure of their lives would train them to recognize offense? """

What are you referring to with the "even when anonymous" comment?

Apparently my original comment was flagged and removed (I don't know why - maybe a moderator can shed some light). It said:

> I read an article (semi) recently posted here where women and other minorities felt attacked on Stack Overflow because of their gender/color, even though they were (for all intents and purposes) anonymous! Could this be the case here as well - women interpreting something that's not sexual harassment as sexual harassment? I.e. if a professor criticizes a woman's paper, she might interpret that as an attack on her gender, even if it isn't: > The most common type of sexual harassment is gender harassment, the report finds. Such behaviour conveys the impression that women do not belong in the workplace or do not merit respect — “the put-downs as opposed to the come-ons”, Johnson says

Is this self-reported harassment? If so, a "put-down" is highly subjective and the SO article shows that women and minorities can take extra offense where none was intended.

It sounds like you're suggesting folks reporting non-overt events as harassment are potentially falling victim to misattribution?

That is, they're drawing the wrong conclusion for, say, a rebuke or lack of praise.

Yes, exactly! Concisely put. That is my concern, supported by the StackOverflow survey results a few months ago

You really really want to believe harassment is not real, but as TFA shows it is a very real problem. I don't know what survey you are referring to which apparently proves harassment is not real?

> You really really want to believe harassment is not real

Nothing about that implies that harassment is not real, but rather that some subset of claims are not actually harassment.

I'm sure you are right... but just for my curiosity can you provide a link to this mysterious survey? Apparently it was linked in a deleted comment.

I would if I could, but I'm not the one who had posted it. Just a casual HN pedant. Sorry!

So you have no idea if this alleged documentation even exist? But you still felt you needed to assert that those "not actual harassment" cases (e.g. women interpreting "lack of praise" as harassment etc.) do exist, and we need to be concerned about them.

I am not surprised.

> So you have no idea if this alleged documentation even exist?

No, it exists and I saw the original link. I don't have it off-hand.

> But you still felt you needed to assert that those "not actual harassment" cases (e.g. women interpreting "lack of praise" as harassment etc.) do exist, and we need to be concerned about them.

'ythn did not more than question the methodology of the study, and point out that for non-overt events, the underlying assumption that something was harassment may be incorrect, and was brigaded into oblivion for this.

Something that was not mentioned, and is also a problem is intentionally false claims. Having been falsely accused of harassment in school, I know first hand it does occur and how damaging it can be.

Unfortunately it is people like you with a scared cow and agenda who cannot stand someone not toeing the party line.

You act as if all claims are legitimate and anyone who dares question the lynch mob is himself derided and attacked. Harassment is all too real, but we cannot lose sight of reality for a false utopia. Not all claims are rooted in fact, and some are actually meant to create harm.

I just asked for a link to the Stack Overflow harassment survey in question because I was curious. To be honest I did have some doubt about the validity of the interpretation since the comment implied that users on Stack Overflow are anonymous, which is clearly not the case for everyone. So I suspected there was some misinterpretation in play. In any case I can't really have an informed opinion either way since this document remains elusive.

> No, it exists and I saw the original link.

Well I guess I have to take your word for it then. Apparently asking for the link rather than accepting the claims unquestioning means I am a brigadeering lynch mob scared cow with an agenda who cannot stand someone not toeing the party line? While referring to the claims without being able to provide a source is totally fine.

I am prepared to apologize for assuming you hadn't actually read the alleged source. I do think it is fair to ask for a source though.

Sorry to hear about the false allegations raised against you, hope you are better.

Do you have a link? People are not necessarily anonymous on SO, so harassment could be real.

I think you should hear more about the experiences of women and minorities. Harassment, intentional or unintentional, is far more the norm than you might think, SO aside (I haven’t seen that so I can’t comment).

Please don't imply that only women and minorities can be harassed. Per the article, men report gender harassment in academia fairly frequently as well(but, women report it 1.64x more frequently). So, if men and women have the same standards for reporting, ~37% of gender harassment claims are made by men.

I’d love to see these stats on gender harassment towards men in a male dominated field.

Regardless, the parent was about the experiences of women and minorities, so that’s what I’m specifically discussing. This kind of knee jerk reaction feels very misplaced against the backdrop of habitual callousness that goes on a daily basis.

Yes, your concern is valid and this is a real concept. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victim_playing

It comes down to, and I quote wikipedia "To break the hold of the negative complex, and to escape the passivity of victimhood, requires taking responsibility for one's own desires and long-term actions.[15]"

This is a little circular, though. When the culture of the time makes it evident that you should be on the defensive with respect to sexual harassment/assault due to its prevalence, then you're more likely to have a false-positive read to any situation.

> This is a little circular, though. When the culture of the time makes it evident that you should be on the defensive with respect to sexual harassment/assault due to its prevalence, then you're more likely to have a false-positive read to any situation.

Well unfortunately I am not subscribed to this "culture of the time" or any herd mentalities, or what I call collective delusions, nor does this invalidate the concept of victimization. So the issue you have is not my concern. I value independent thought and free thinking and call out group think and wrong think.

Unfortunately for you, language and communication is a game theoretic concept. So as much as you want to be objectively right about any communication that takes place, that's not a concept that exists. What you see as 'independent and free' for the most part is just isolated and narcissistic thoughts that are consistent with your own brain. And especially for things like sexual harassment, this is a very careless stance to take. The fact that you don't think you're harassing someone means almost nothing. You have to be educated and aware enough to understand how they might interpret a situation, even if they're idiots.

Being objective is a real thing. The poster pointed out, that women on stack overflow were complaining about being sexually harassed. Then the poster pointed out, there was no way to know if the person was a woman or not at the time. So objectively, it was impossible for somebody to sexually harass them if the variable of their sex was not known. The poster wanted to know how something like this can happen. I posted, in reply, that there this is a real concept in psychology, that this situation is known about, and linked to a wikipedia article that briefly covered the subject.

What you did was take what I said, and applied to generally to the original posting -- and took my words out of context. You then projected your own narcissistic thoughts onto me as a way to shame me for something out of context. I don't appreciate this and I will call out this type of thinking everytime I see it. You seem to have a high intelligence so I am hoping you see this as a blessing and reflect on what I am saying. Being objective is a learned discipline that not everyone has. Not everyone can do it, and, objectively, nobody is 100% objective. But that doesn't mean we can strive in our communication to try being so the best we can. Don't take my words out of context and try to shame me, it won't work.

Amongst the valid claims of real harassment there are always cases like this. It is difficult to classify though because of the emotionally charged nature of the topic. There is little to gain in doing so, and in some cases it's even discouraged.

Non-reporting is far more extensive than over-reporting, in my experience. We saw this a lot during the #metoo movement - women talking about experiences they had never shared before, often out of fear for their own jobs or safety.

Non-reported over-reports are pretty extensive too...

How do you know? Not disputing your claim, just curious where you get your numbers.

Cases like this? What makes you think the cases described here are not "real"?

Cases that the parent was talking about.

Yes I understand that, but... what cases? The comment at the top of this thread states "if a professor criticizes a woman's paper, she might interpret that as an attack on her gender, even if it isn't" - but this sounds like pure speculation, not like a reference to any real known case. I mean...you can imagine all kinds of things, but you can't really counterbalance documented cases of harassments with imaginary cases. But apparently, people in this sub-thread are much more gravely concerned about these apparently imaginary cases of overly-sensitive women, rather than the very real documented cases of harassment.

The major issue is that in general society values results above all else. As long as you are producing, with few exceptions, your supporters will back you up. Look at Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Weinstein (until just recently), Roman Polanski for examples.

While I hope the focus and importance that #MeToo has brought to the issue of sexual harassment will be a long term thing, I think human nature being what it is, people will make the right statements while in reality continuing to protect and promote harassers as long as they are producing for them (be they politicians or scientists or engineers).

I'm not sure that these people care about results that much. Movies with women writers, directors, and leads are setting records. When the abusive men are being protected, women are pushed out even if they would have performed better than the men. I think misogyny is the root cause here, not a focus on results.

Polanski raped a child. That's a whole different level of awful than everything else being discussed here.

Completely agree. But look how much support he maintained in Hollywood, even winning an Oscar for Best Director. The fact that someone who raped a child, can maintain such support should tell us that getting people and institutions to really go after harassers(who while awful are not child rape level of awful) is going to be an uphill battle.

Women: No shit.


Just watch. That's exactly what will happen here.

edit: And the downvotes pour down like rain. No shit.

You're not getting downvoted for the reason you think. You're getting downvoted because you're generalizing about an entire gender and don't realize the irony of that as it relates to your point.

I think I covered that with "I FEEL PERSONALLY ATTACKED!!"

It's not "ironic". It's a basic rhetoric technique in discussions of racism and sexism. If a generalization is made that doesn't specifically (preferably personally) exclude some dude, then suddenly it's all about him and how offended he is to be lumped in with this thing that of course he doesn't do. And then the conversation degenerates into said dude(s) howling about the offense to his sacred honor, and the original topic is lost.

Sit back and watch any online discussion about sexism, you will see this pattern repeated. Saying the downvotes are because I'm generalizing is missing the point entirely. That's just an excuse for the downvote.

The reason for the downvote is I pointed out the nasty, toxic, sexist crap, so I'm getting punished for it.

There are more constructive ways to make your point. You're right that men are part of the problem. That also makes them part of the solution. By using rhetoric that alienates men who can be swayed either way you perpetuate the problem you are trying to solve.

I think a good example of how to approach this issue constructively is found in the civil rights movement. The messaging in the civil rights movement wasn't: white people are doing bad things. It was: black people deserve the same treatment as everyone else. One of those messages alienates people, the other unites everyone in a common cause.

Similarly, a more constructive way of viewing the current sexual harassment issue would be something like: here are some things women experience in the workplace that we can all agree are wrong, and men have an important role to play in both not engaging in these actions and in dissuading their colleagues from engaging in them when they occur.

I think you're comparing to a fictional version of the civil rights movement, not the actual response it received. Note the past tense; I'm sure you meant "MLK", not the modern civil rights movement. Let's dig into that.

The most recent major civil rights protest is the kneeling protest during NFL games - black (and some white) players taking a knee rather than standing during the national anthem, to protest racism and state violence against black people. And millions of white Americans are furious. Players are being punished for it. The president refuses to meet with a team (that interestingly, had no kneelers before). The vast majority of white Americans disapprove of this protest.

The nature of the protest? Black men, sitting quietly, saying nothing, breaking no laws, for about two minutes. And white America is furious.

Remember that past tense thing? MLK was assassinated a half a century ago. And we're still fighting for civil rights, although white America tends to think of it as a past tense thing where there was no violence and everyone agreed.

Now, take this lesson and apply it to sexism.

If that were true, then why are other posts discussing the topic constructively getting upvoted? Maybe your original post was just slightly alienating.

Alienating to whom?

In the interest of the Socratic method, do you think women would be more likely to downvote the OP, or men?

Alienating to men, obviously. I don't see the point of that question.

Socratic method. If my post was wrong, then it should be equally alienating to both women and men. But if it was merely an uncomfortable truth, then it should only be alienating to men - specifically men who take offense at having the general nature of sexism and their specific toxic reaction pattern to it called out.

As I've said before, "I FEEL PERSONALLY ATTACKED!!" is a redirection, a way of changing the subject and reversing the roles of attacker and victim. Men who understand sexism (including the sexist responses in discussions of sexism) don't feel personally attacked by generalizations and statistical truths. I don't feel attacked.

Let's get Socratic again. Was my comment alienating? Yes, and deliberately so, to a targeted audience. Was it alienating to those who accept the basic truth of it? No. But the real question is... is what I said untrue? As a generalization, are women likely to find this study unsurprising? Are men likely to take a defensive position and make it about themselves? You seem to be agreeing with this - "alienating to men, obviously". It wouldn't be alienating to men if they weren't likely to do the role-reversal defense, and it would be alienating to women if it were untrue.

So we're in a position where my comment is strongly punished by the community for saying true things. And here comes the hemlock. Socratic method is very interesting sometimes.

> Socratic method. If my post was wrong, then it should be equally alienating to both women and men.

Not necessarily; people have biases that affect their perceptions and reactions.

> Men who understand sexism (including the sexist responses in discussions of sexism) don't feel personally attacked by generalizations and statistical truths. I don't feel attacked.

I didn't feel personally attacked by your post or anyone's in this thread, yet still downvoted your OP for being alienating.

> Was my comment alienating? Yes, and deliberately so, to a targeted audience. Was it alienating to those who accept the basic truth of it? No.... Are men likely to take a defensive position and make it about themselves?

Yes, men are more likely to react that way, but one can still find your post alienating and counter-productive while acknowledging its truth.

> So we're in a position where my comment is strongly punished by the community for saying true things. And here comes the hemlock.

I think you're being a bit dramatic, downvotes are in now way equivalent to forced suicide.

To be pedantic, Socrates wasn't really "forced" to drink hemlock. He could easily have avoided that fate. He could have argued forcefully for his innocence, and easily won - he could argue rings around the Sophists, and everyone knew it. Instead, he argued that society itself was wrong. He could then have begged for mercy. Instead, he told them to do their worst, and live down to what he thought they were. The jury voted for death by a wider margin than they voted for guilt! ("I didn't feel personally attacked... yet still downvoted")

And of course, Socrates' real crime was saying true but uncomfortable things.

All told, it's a pretty good analogy. It's not about the suicide, it's about society's reaction to uncomfortable truth, and what happens when you say the truth even knowing you'll be punished for it.

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