What Impact Does Stuff Like This Have On Science?

Yet another missive from a puppy kicker.  Now I don’t know the exact circumstances about The Marcy case.  For all I know he could be the biggest horndog out there as well as being a total idiot. . I am sure that if he was NOT aware of the fact that he had to keep constantly alert about his behavior, he was a total idiot.  I do think that it’s telling that the events were not reported for YEARS after they took place when the so called victims were changing careers from astronomy to professional activists and victims.

Remember that this wasn’t happening at some Podunk Conservative outpost or isolated research station.  This supposedly happened at UC Berkeley, the center of PC for the last fifty years.  Berkley was where feminism got it’s start.  As well as where sexual harassment became a thing.  If there’s been an unprogressive thing to come out of Berkley EVER, I’ve never heard of it.  About the only place more progressive is the blue Ivy Covered snob Factory up the road from me.

Claiming sexual harassment long after the case is the same sort of tactic that militant feminists use over and over.  Declare sexism where none exists and make lurid accusations long after the fact.  Now the accusations may be true, but if they were why did not the lady make a case out of it right after the event, if not during the event. Nobody’s so powerful that they are not subject to be embarrassed and humiliated.  There’s also the fact that the alleged massive sexual harassment case only generated two victims willing to testify and two witnesses who were not involved.  And one of the victims only said that she felt “uncomfortable.”  This is the Clarence Thomas tactic of the “seriousness of the charge” all over again. I’m also going to point out that this yet another case in the long string of prominent scientists publically attacked and humiliated by feminists in the last couple of years.

Geoffrey William Marcy, future award-winning astronomer and UC Berkeley professor, was only twelve years old when Star Trek premiered. A couple of years later, Marcy discovered astronomy. According to a 2001 profile in the LA Times, he would often sit on his rooftop in southern California and gaze through a telescope. “He was 14 and he was obsessed…by the age-old questions that animated the science fiction he devoured… Were there other Earths teeming with life? Marcy was certain there were.” A few weeks ago, Marcy was being discussed as a potential Nobel Prize honoree. Then BuzzFeed leaked the story that Marcy had been found guilty of sexual harassment.

Last Thursday, my colleagues and I received an email from the Chancellor of UC Berkeley informing us that Marcy had resigned. A panel had found that he had sexually harassed female students for nearly a decade. According to Azeen Ghorayshi, the reporter who broke the story for BuzzFeed, Marcy’s great success was part of the reason why his pattern of harassment went unchallenged. As Ghorayshi explained, “Marcy’s is the rare ilk of scientific research that is capable of both reaching the peak of his field and capturing the public imagination.”

Ghorayshi lays out in painful detail how Marcy’s behavior was both widespread and well known; her article documents incidents of alleged misconduct with female colleagues dating back to the 1980s. BuzzFeed also noted that “UC Berkeley is currently under federal investigation for its handling of dozens of sexual violence complaints on campus.” In Ghorayshi’s article, David Charbonneau, a professor of astronomy at Harvard, calls Marcy “the most prominent exoplanet researcher in the U.S.” Charbonneau added that the fight for gender parity in the field is profoundly undermined “when the most prominent person is a routine harasser.”

Jessica Kirkpatrick, one of the complainants in the UC Berkeley investigation, wasn’t harassed herself — but as a former graduate student in the department, she witnessed Marcy’s behavior firsthand: “He’s had a long history of behaving inappropriately, especially with undergraduates.” Marcy was in his mid-fifties in 2010 when Kirkpatrick observed him getting “inappropriately touchy” with an undergraduate. While Marcy was winning international accolades for discovering exoplanets and working with NASA, he was also “groping students, kissing them and touching or massaging them inside their clothes.” While he was making great strides in astronomy and appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman, he was also responsible for a number of promising female students leaving the field.
On the eve of the release of the report finding him guilty, Marcy posted the following: “It is difficult to express how painful it is for me to realize that I was a source of distress for any of my women colleagues, however unintentional.” Yet as a man of science, he must know that this is a scientific impossibility. The hand does not “unintentionally” slip under clothing or grope the body of a student of its own volition. Yet in the white male science fiction imagination of the ’60s, outer space exploration and sexual conquest could often be blended. For Marcy, the bodies of female students seem to have represented little more than new and unexplored terrain.

According to TV.com, Geoff Marcy guest-starred in a 2001 BBC special called “Star Trek Night.” The Times article noted that his dreams were “the stuff of TV fantasy, a ‘Star Trek’ script.” Back here at home, was Geoff Marcy trying to live in his own personal episode of Star Trek? In the realm of sexuality, unfortunately, his fantasies seemed to override any more current information he might have received about what is and is not appropriate behavior. As a faculty member at Berkeley, I can attest that we are mandated to receive training on sexual harassment every other year. I have taken the the in-person training, the online training, and the fun theater skit-based training, and I know that during his sixteen years at this university, Marcy was certainly given the information that his behavior was unwelcome, inappropriate, illegal, and might cost him his job. Yet the dated fantasy trope of the space opera with the bold explorer hero does not die easily.



Now I’ve been around the science establishment one way or another for a long time now and quite frankly the accusation of rampant sexism and racism in the sciences just doesn’t hold water.  neither do the accusations of systematic oppression from the powers that be.  I’ve worked with too many top flight scientists to believe that for even a second. Science doesn’t move forward in a climate of fear and in general the kinds of climate that allows that to happen doesn’t exist in s science environment.  I’ve also worked in the National Labs environment and for the most part everybody I knew was a fun person who was focused on their work and enjoyed it very much.  My one experience with sexual harassment was a very scary “training” session run by a predatory bureaucrat type who spent much of the session regaling us with his war stories.  Not fun.

In my experience sexism and racism and science just don’t mix.  Scientists tend to be the type that are so focused on their work, so immersed in the wonders of what they do that chasing skirts, or for that matter eating sort gets put to the side.  The typical scientist doesn’t have the energy for that kind of crap.  They are all to busy trying to discover the next wondrous thing and share the wonder.

Marcy seems to fit the bill of the true scientist as far as I can see. Reading the LA Times piece quoted he spent decades in scientific Coventry trying to find exoplanets.  The fact that he didn’t give up, just slide into the conventional wisdom and nice cushy jobs at the national lab, never challenging the status quo is telling.  Real science isn’t done by the comfortable in nice clean antiseptic big lab with the billion dollar budget.  It’s done by the people working on the fringes, on shoestring taking the risks.


Maybe what follows is even more important.  The puppy kickers not only want to destroy individuals they want to destroy the dream.  It’s not enough to stomp on Marcy’s bad behavior, the writer must link it to Marcy’s love of Star Trek and science fiction and blast that too. It’s not enough to trash the man, the wonder must be trashed as well.  I wish I could say that this was an isolated incident, but unfortunately this kind of guilt by being liked by the bad and evil is becoming an all too common tactic of the screaming harpy brigade.  It’s not enough destroy the man, what he stands for must be destroyed for the cause as well.  In fact that destruction of people’s dreams and ideas is the point to these people.  They aren’t scared of puppies, they are scared of the ideas that puppies bring to the table.

The puppy kickers and  screaming harpy brigade know in their hearts that what they bring to the table is pretty unpalatable in mixed company.  They know that outside their little cult the rest of the world doesn’t find what they have to offer very palatable.  The problem is that they see that as meaning that it is the rest of us that is at fault. This concrete notion that they must be right, while it works for cultish fanatics like themselves is anathema to science and the pursuit of knowledge.

I have to wonder what effect the rants of the harpy brigade have on the efforts of people like friend Dr. Shinn here to bring science to people and especially kids.  She works very hard to teach and enlighten, to make science interesting to people.  That’s in addition to her full time job as the laserlady at the Department of Energy. How many of the public and nasty show trials will it take to scare kids away from even pursuing a scientific career.  How much will it take before the odd, the brilliant and creative, already more or ostracized by normality, just find a quiet janitor or mailman job and drop out, just reading for themselves.


Who’s going to pursue a career in the sciences when your entire decades long pursuit and your highest achievement can be destroyed over the fact that some harpy didn’t like your lucky shirt?   Never mind that you just put a probe on a comet for crying out loud, some harpy in Brooklyn, who has done nothing of note and who has no vision can only see the shirt.

That’s the real danger that the harpy brigade presents. That they will so poison the fertile soil of imagination that we stop growing anything there.  They don’t have the spark the vision, to see beyond their narrow little world and they want everybody to be confined to their little narrow world because that’s all they can see and they cannot tolerate any vision other than theirs.

The problem is that we need vision.  We need people who can see beyond the obvious, who walk over the next hill and sail over the horizon.  None of that matters to the harpies though.  What do others’ crushed dreams mean when social justice Is on the line and there are scalps to be collected. As far the harpies are concerned putting the lights out is only a bonus.

Now I’ve talked at length about the Sad Puppies and the Hugo debacle earlier this year.  Here’s my Hugo award post list if you want just everything you ever wanted to know about what’s happened to science fiction. The most frustrating thing about all this is that no matter what the puppies do or say, the kickers and their harpy friends cannot see the damage they are doing.  They can’t see anything beyond their little narrow dark spaces.


fortunately the world has moved on.  The lights have not been dimmed and odd little kids can still dream, even thought the system is working ever harder to put them in boxes and put out their lights.  That’s something that’s people should fight at any cost and that’s why the puppies exist.


  1. Pingback: Instapundit » Blog Archive » THERE THEY GO AGAIN: What Impact Does Stuff Like This Have On Science?…
  2. h39tyggol;pu · October 29, 2015

    Most published research findings are false:

    Bad Science Muckrakers Question the Big Science Status Quo: “… inherent biases and the flawed statistical analyses built into most ‘hypothesis driven’ research, resulting in publications that largely represent ‘accurate measures of the prevailing bias.'”

    Linus Pauling: “Everyone should know that most cancer research is largely a fraud and that the major cancer research organizations are derelict in their duties to the people who support them.” -Linus Pauling PhD (Two-time Nobel Prize winner).”

    “The Lancet”: The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

    “Nature”: “Ridding science of shoddy statistics will require scrutiny of every step, not merely the last one, say Jeffrey T. Leek and Roger D. Peng.”

    Retraction Watch

    I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How.

    Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers: “The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense.”

    “Der Spiegel protested all of this discussion with the statement, that what they hear is that ‘journalists want to earn money, whereas scientists are only seeking the truth.’ This brought loud guffaws from all three [professors]. ‘Scientists,’ answered Dr. Fischer, ‘want success; they want a wife, a hotel room, an invitation, or perhaps a car!'”

    The History of Important Scientific Discoveries Initially Rejected and Ridiculed.


    • jccarlton · October 29, 2015

      Watch this space. I’ve got another post working about that.


  3. richb313 · October 29, 2015



  4. Francis W. Porretto · October 29, 2015

    The most frustrating thing about all this is that no matter what the puppies do or say, the kickers and their harpy friends cannot see the damage they are doing.

    Please consider the possibility that they can and do see the damage they’re doing — and that it might be their true priority. Remember that it was a feminist professor who disparaged Newtonian mechanics as “Newton’s Rape Manual.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mackay Rippey · October 29, 2015

      Thank you, Francis. You have much more elegantly said what I was thinking. To coin a phrase, the damage to science by the puppy kickers is not a bug, it’s a feature.


  5. Mike Collins · October 29, 2015

    Well said.


  6. DrTorch · October 29, 2015

    Leftists want to destroy W. Civilization. All of it. Including science.


  7. Pseudonym · October 30, 2015

    Marcy was headed toward an academic frontier, beyond the boundaries of safe, sanctioned research topics, a place where jobs and grant money were scarce.

    As a graduate student, I am getting more than a little jaded and cynical about academia and the sort of research that gets sanctioned and pursued there. So far just this week, I’ve seen vast amounts of intellectual energy expended on things that make no sense, but “make an excellent case to obtain funding from NSF”.

    In my own research, I’ve spent years on an experiment to test a hypothesis that my advisor insists is brilliant and the next greatest thing, but for which none of the quantitative aspects match our physical situation at all. I told them 2 years ago exactly why we shouldn’t expect to see the dependence they expect. Now, 2 years later, after having made extremely careful measurements, and finding something completely different than what we are looking for, but not finding anything resembling the initial hypothesis, my experimental data is “wrong”, because my advisor’s physics is “right”, and I’m just not doing things right, or having the right attitude towards research.

    As to my own hypothesis which I proposed to explain the things I am seeing – I was ordered not to spend time on it, because it is “physically unreasonable”, and what I am seeing is just some uninteresting fluke.

    Academic freedom is a lie.


    • jccarlton · October 30, 2015

      The experimental data is never wrong. Now you may have not conducted the correct experiment to prove the hypothesis, but if the measurements are taken correctly and the procedures were done properly, then the data is what it is. Nobody should do an experiment expecting a result. I think that this is appropriate.


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