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A Message from Mariette DiChristina, Editor in Chief


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Scientific American bloggers lie at the heart of the SA website, pumping vitality, experience and broad insight around the community. Unfortunately our poor communication with this valuable part of the SA network over the recent days has led to concerns, misunderstandings and ill feelings, and we are committed to working to try to put this right as best we can.

We know that there are real and important issues regarding the treatment of women in science and women of color in science, both historically and currently, and are dismayed at the far too frequent cases in which women face prejudice and suffer inappropriate treatment as they strive for equality and respect. We recently removed a blog post by Dr. Danielle Lee that alleged a personal experience of this nature. Dr. Lee’s post pertained to personal correspondence between her and an editor at Biology-Online about a possible assignment for that network. Unfortunately, we could not quickly verify the facts of the blog post and consequently for legal reasons we had to remove the post. Although we regret that this was necessary, a publisher must be able to protect its interests and Scientific American bloggers are informed that we may remove their blog posts at any time when they agree to blog for us. In removing the post, we were in no way commenting upon the substance of the post, but reflecting that the underlying facts were not confirmed.

We deeply regret that we were not able to communicate our decision to Dr. Lee before removing the post on a late Friday afternoon before a long weekend. We recognize that it would have been better to fully explain our position before its removal, but the circumstances were such that we could not make that happen in a timely way.

We would like to make clear that Biology-Online is neither a part of Scientific American, nor a “content partner.” We are investigating what links we currently have with Biology-Online. We intend to take further action, but due to the timing of this situation and our need to investigate the facts further, we cannot provide additional information at this point. We commit to updating you as we progress.

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

We take very seriously the issues that are faced by women in science and women of color in science. As a woman who has worked in science publishing for more than 20 years, I can add that we intend to discuss how we can better investigate and publicize such problems in general and search for solutions with Dr. Lee and with the wider scientific community. With the help of Dr. Lee as an author, Scientific American plans to provide a thoroughly reported feature article about the current issues facing women in science and the related research in the coming weeks. I am personally grateful to Dr. Lee for her support in these endeavors and am looking forward to working with her on these issues.

UPDATED on October 22, 2013: Further to my earlier statement of October 13, 2013 (above), please see below for responses from Scientific American to specific concerns that have been raised:

Why was Dr. Lee’s post taken down?
On Friday night, October 11, we took the decision to take down a blog by Dr. Danielle Lee on the Scientific American blogging network while we worked to verify an allegation contained in it. We were shocked and disappointed by what happened in the correspondence that Dr. Lee blogged about and wish to support her in her ambitions to bring issues of race and gender in science to the fore. However, we noticed a serious allegation was being made and that a person and a company were being named. This meant we were concerned about possible libel and consequences. We worked over the weekend to have the facts checked and to try to contact the parties to give them an opportunity to reply. On Monday, we were able to re-post the blog in its original form.

In our concern to act quickly, we failed to promptly and fully communicate our intentions. This breakdown in communication was a mistake on our part, and one that we regret. We have apologized to Dr. Lee personally, and to the Scientific American blogging community for taking the blog post down before we had communicated with Dr. Lee.

Why did Scientific American wait so long to restore the post?
Over a holiday weekend, we were busy fact checking for legal reasons and trying to contact the named parties to get their responses.

Why wasn’t Dr. Lee contacted before the post was removed?
We regret not contacting Dr. Lee before the post was removed. We made a very quick decision to remove the post as soon as it came to our attention. Two members of staff contacted Dr. Lee within half an hour of the post being removed, but the actual reason for removal was not clearly explained.
It took longer than we hoped to address our concerns because the post was removed on the Friday of a holiday weekend. We have now addressed our concerns and reinstated the post.

Has Scientific American terminated its partnership with Biology-Online.org?
Scientific American did not have a partnership with Biology-Online. Biology-Online is one of several science-themed websites whose traffic is reported as part of the Scientific American Network — meaning that, if someone were to look up “Scientific American” on Nielsen or comScore (services that track audience data), they would see two sets of numbers: one for the Scientific American “Channel,” which would just be ScientificAmerican.com, and a second for the Scientific American “Brand,” representing the Scientific American Network, which includes several sites, including Biology-Online. Beyond ascribing their traffic, there is no additional commercial relationship between the sites in the Scientific American Network and Scientific American or ScientificAmerican.com. We do not sell ads into Biology-Online nor provide them with any other remuneration nor, in turn, do they provide any remuneration to us.

We welcome how seriously Biology-Online has taken this matter since it came to light and are not planning on taking any action against them.

Have the editors at Scientific American apologized to Dr. Lee personally?
Yes. Editor-in-Chief Mariette DiChristina has spoken to Dr. Lee and apologized to her personally. We would like to state for the record that we are very sorry for the way that we handled the situation and for the upset that it has caused Dr. Lee.

Mariette also offered a personal apology to our blog network on Sunday, when she shared the public statement with them. We reprint it here in the interests of transparency:
“In summary, I would like to personally apologize to you all that we have not reached the high standards of communication that you expect of us and that we expect of ourselves. We will be in touch again and would like to reaffirm our commitment to addressing important issues to the scientific community, including those relating to gender and inequality.”

Your earlier statement referred to a feature story. When will it run?
We cannot tell you exactly when the feature story will be published as it will depend how long it takes to research and write. We can confirm that Dr. Lee has indicated that she is willing to work on the story with Scientific American. We can also confirm that we intend to run the piece online first in order to publish it as quickly as possible, and we will also publish it in a print issue of the magazine.

What steps will Scientific American take to try to reduce the chances of this type of issue re-occurring?
We take the situation seriously and we are looking at our current practices.
Scientific American will provide information to its bloggers to help them to better understand potential legal issues to help them know when to notify Scientific American of their concerns regarding those issues.

Mariette DiChristina About the Author: Editor in Chief, Mariette DiChristina, oversees Scientific American, ScientificAmerican.com, Scientific American MIND and all newsstand special editions. Follow on Twitter @mdichristina.

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





Rights & Permissions

Comments 107 Comments

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  1. 1. Chris Clarke 1:54 pm 10/13/2013

    So basically, as a rule with two data points by now including Dr. Lee and Karen Stollznow, one need only threaten you with a lawsuit to get posts taken down regardless of their veracity.

    About 10 years ago the publication I then managed was sued over a story I edited and published. It was a relatively high profile lawsuit by a former Secretary General of CITES. Our first response after consulting our attorneys was to reconfirm whether the story was factual. Our story was good, the lawsuit spurious, and we had kept the story available in the meantime to fulfill our mission of educating our readers.

    If mild perseverance in the face of imagined legal challenges is too daunting a prospect for SciAm management, perhaps a change in professions is in order.

    Link to this
  2. 2. galindes 1:58 pm 10/13/2013

    “The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American”. Ha!

    Link to this
  3. 3. Paepin 2:12 pm 10/13/2013

    “Unfortunately, we could not quickly verify the facts of the blog post and consequently for legal reasons we had to remove the post.”

    I understand how you may have been worried that the facts were incorrect/libelous, but doesn’t the “views expressed” clause protect the publication in that case? It seems like the act of removal was made in an act of panic, not out of necessity.

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  4. 4. Laurabottomley 2:17 pm 10/13/2013

    Thank you for ths post.

    Link to this
  5. 5. MissionHelper 2:18 pm 10/13/2013

    Although there appear to be other POVs, that seems like a reasonble response to me.

    Link to this
  6. 6. DaktariDave 2:19 pm 10/13/2013

    This letter is a nice example of being two-faced. It seems to be saying two different things: (1) that the treatment of women in science is an important issue that they plan to cover and (2) a blog post about the treatment of women in science is not appropriate for their site.

    If you are going to back-peddle, why not just apologize?

    Link to this
  7. 7. Bashir 2:24 pm 10/13/2013

    Someone had the tools to delete a blog post but didn’t have the ability to email the author? A quick “legal issues, longer explanation to come” would have prevented much of this. Whomever made the decision to delete had time to write that email.

    Link to this
  8. 8. curiouswavefunction 2:25 pm 10/13/2013

    I appreciate your detailed and thoughtful response but I still think that Sci Am should engage in a dialogue with its bloggers before simply taking a post down, maybe at least sending them an email asking them if they would consider modifying the post or taking it offline for some time while the relevant issues are ironed out. I feel confident in saying that all of us greatly appreciate the opportunity to blog for a magazine with such a proud tradition of supporting science in all its incarnations and would be more than happy to engage in a constructive conversation regarding potential issues with a post. However when we feel that we longer have control over our posts it feels wrong and intrusive. So I would humbly suggest that Sci Am keep its bloggers in the loop *before* a post is taken down.

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  9. 9. abolitionist 2:28 pm 10/13/2013

    @Chris Clarke,

    What publication are you referring to?

    Link to this
  10. 10. bytemonger 2:30 pm 10/13/2013

    So, when you tweeted “Re blog inquiry: @sciam is a publication for discovering science. The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed.” you were being less than honest? According to you in this post, it was legal issues and lack of verifiability that prompted the deletion. IF that is the case, why did you try to downplay the content of the post initially?

    Along with other issues like your refusal to contact the blogger before removing etc… this whole thing still sounds very inappropriate for a professional publication.

    Or, you are still being blind to what is happening and should have headed to your own 20/20 hindsight and waited for someone with more integrity to respond.

    Link to this
  11. 11. MichelleClement 2:32 pm 10/13/2013

    I’m having a hard time seeing the connection between the reason given here, “we could not quickly verify the facts of the blog post and consequently for legal reasons we had to remove the post” and the reason given on twitter yesterday, “sciam is a publication for discovering science. The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed.” There’s no internal consistency, and therefore this whole post reeks of backpedaling. Could we get some clarification on the original (twitter) explanation, especially since it is inconsistent with how personal posts by SciAm bloggers have been treated in the past?

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  12. 12. charvakan 2:35 pm 10/13/2013

    I’m not sure what more Ms DiChristina should have said at this point. The insult to Ms Lee was in an email from someone SA has no formal relationship with in another organization, so it’s not unreasonable to find out who actually did what before making pronouncements. SA undoubtedly learned something from this, but I’d like them to spell that out as precisely as possible so we can determine if they learned the right lessons. I’ve been subscribing to SA for almost 40 years and they’ve built up enormous credibility with me. If this was a momentary flub, it won’t diminish my esteem for the institution. So far all that SA did wrong was to remove a blog post for insufficient cause. If it takes a couple days for them to determine the facts and make the appropriate apologies and denunciations, that’s good enough for me.

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  13. 13. quantumdani 2:36 pm 10/13/2013

    Given Ms. DiChristina’s twitter post, I find most of this response to be disingenuous for reasons that have already been stated by commenters above, notably Bashir, Chris Clarke, and DaktariDave. I am concerned that SciAm is now so cynical that it would disbelieve a writer who has been nothing but loyal to them. That they would be so concerned that she was lying as to believe that she was possibly fabricating evidence (screenshots) in order to commit libel; that they would be so convinced as to be humiliating and inconsiderate by deleting her post without telling her why instead of simply doing fact checking in the background. I am concerned that this has never happened to any of Scientific American’s white writers, male or female.

    I also am concerned that after all of this the response is not that Scientific American can and should do better at reporting specifically on the experiences of women of color in STEM, but that it will do a feature on women in STEM. I am concerned about this because these pieces, with very few exceptions, are long on stories of white women and short on stories about the experiences of women of color.

    Women of color in STEM deserve a feature in Scientific American. It is long overdue. In many fields, white women’s participation has grown while the numbers of women of color, particularly from underrepresented groups, have stagnated. We deserve not just one feature but as many as it takes to help the American public and the scientific community understand that a scientific community where women of color are not visible or present is a scientific community that is fundamentally weaker than one where we are.

    When I graduated from high school in 1999, I was an avid reader of Scientific American. I was excited to go to college to major in a STEM field. I never realized how much racism I would face and how lonely it would feel. What a world of difference Scientific American could have made had it made the point of featuring women of color in STEM regularly, not just on its website but in its physical publication. I might have known that I was not alone. How many bright young women of color might have stayed in the field had they had that same information?

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  14. 14. GeekyGirlEngineer 2:40 pm 10/13/2013

    And yet, nowhere in this post is a statement to the effect “the alleged language by the editor at Biology-Online is completely unacceptable.” Do what the media does, put the word “alleged” in there, and you cover yourself. Like galindes already stated, at the bottom of all blog posts is the statement “The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.” At the bottom of this post is that statement. I don’t know where you stand Scientific American, but it is not behind your bloggers.

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  15. 15. TheOmni 2:45 pm 10/13/2013

    Even allowing for the limitations of Twitter, I truly can’t see any connection at all between the initial statement and this message. Is there something I’m missing between them? If they are as unrelated as they appear then that leaves worrisome questions. Did someone else delete the post and you tried to guess why on Twitter? Did you delete the post because it wasn’t “discovering science” (still not sure what that means?) and then try to come up with a less objectionable reason for the deletion after the community objected?

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  16. 16. MassiveMarbles 2:46 pm 10/13/2013

    The sad life of the sorely misunderstood disclaimer.

    Link to this
  17. 17. RCheese 2:53 pm 10/13/2013

    Is it true that the next print edition will have a broad yellow stripe on the front and back covers?

    Link to this
  18. 18. standbackimgoingtousescience 3:00 pm 10/13/2013

    Worst non-apology ever. Way to blame the long-weekend for not being able to contact Dr. Lee before taking her post down. As others point out, if SciAm and the EIC had the time to both take down the post and tweet an excuse, they had time to email and/or call Dr. Lee about taking down the post.

    Also, this statement: “In removing the post, we were in no way commenting upon the substance of the post, but reflecting that the underlying facts were not confirmed.” Does this mean that SciAm is going to put the post back up when it confirms the facts that the emails exist?

    If SciAm “take very seriously the issues that are faced by women in science and women of color in science,” maybe it should let women of color speak for themselves when these sexist and racist incidents happen, rather than just in your own lawyer-filtered “feature articles.”

    Link to this
  19. 19. drafterman 3:02 pm 10/13/2013

    Echoing MichelleClement and TheOmni, everyone supporting, congratulating, or defending SciAm, or in anyway thinking this post explains or remedies anything, needs to really look into what happened here:

    1. A female science blogger was called a derogatory term for not giving someone else something for free.
    2. The female blogger wrote about it.
    3. SciAm deleted the post without any communication with the blogger.
    4. SciAm says it did so because it was off topic:
    https://twitter.com/mdichristina/status/389031397341794304
    5. Now they say it was all because of legal reasons.

    The only reason they are doing this at all is because of the negative attention this has received. I can only speculate as to why they are doubling down rather than apologizing, though I would have to assume that “because: teh law!” sounds more official and is more likely to warrant people blindly thinking that this is acceptable.

    It isn’t.

    The post should be restored.
    SciAm should apologize to Ms. Lee for unceremoniously deleting her blog post.
    SciAm should apologize to Ms. Lee for publicly telling the world, on twitter, that her post about her treatment was “not appropriate.”
    SciAm should apologize to everyone for trying to spin this as a legal matter in light of the above.

    Science is about the truth, for better or for worse.
    Deleting posts and lying about the motives is an anathema to science.

    Link to this
  20. 20. Chryses 3:26 pm 10/13/2013

    Drafterman (19),

    “… Science is about the truth, for better or for worse.
    Deleting posts and lying about the motives is an anathema to science.”

    While I cannot comment on their motivations, SCIAM’s bloggers suppress posts. That’s not news.

    Link to this
  21. 21. escherbach 3:36 pm 10/13/2013

    This isn’t any different to buying a girl flowers after punching her a few days earlier.

    You need to accept some punishment for the misdeed not plead for mercy and offer bribes to make it alright.

    Link to this
  22. 22. Crip Dyke 4:03 pm 10/13/2013

    While theoretically one could delete the posts for reasons of both legal liability **and** irrelevance, you have not asserted overlapping reasons. You have asserted two, different reasons.

    I’m having real trouble with the idea that you deleted the post but did not know why you deleted the post, if the reason was reasons of legal liability: LL is not gut wrongness, it is a condition of which one becomes aware by conscious analysis.

    So either you were consciously aware of an issue of LL which motivated the takedown, and falsely said it was due to the post’s irrelevance to SciAm’s mission, or you were not consciously aware of such an issue and/or LL did not motivate the take down, and falsely state here that your awareness of LL was in fact the motive.

    It is hard to escape the conclusion that intentional deception – lying – is occurring here. Help me out: how is it possible for both your tweet on friday to be true and for your assertion here about LL motivating the takedown to be true?

    As a separate issue, you state, “In removing the post, we were in no way commenting upon the substance of the post…”.

    Sure that’s true. However, then you went on twitter to say that the substance of the post was so outside the mission of SciAm that the post must be removed. The removal itself was not the comment, but you have, in fact, commented on the substance of the post. Do not mistake the criticism you have received as being an evidence-free assumption about a non-verbal statement implied by the takedown itself. We have evidence. You have provided comment. This sidesteps the issue and makes me concerned you do not believe that SciAm has done anything wrong here.

    This is furthered by the following statement: “a publisher must be able to protect its interests and Scientific American bloggers are informed that we may remove their blog posts at any time when they agree to blog for us…”

    To be blunt, no one has challenged your right to control content on your site. Your critics have challenged whether the exercise of your control, in this case, was ethically right. If you are relying on, “I own the network, I can do what I want,” you must realize that the same objections apply to a pair of siblings who, on a subway, swing a bat that they themselves own and carelessly strike another passenger. When it strikes that other in the head, “I own the bat and decisions about when and how to swing it go to the core of my property rights over the bat,” miss the point. Your right to control the blog network is not in question.

    What is in question is the ethics you employ in making decisions about the exercise of power that comes with that ownership. “I own the network” is not going to change the minds of content providers considering jumping ship. It is **because** you own the network that some content providers are considering jumping ship.

    Finally, the following is just factually wrong:
    “We recently removed a blog post by Dr. Danielle Lee that alleged a personal experience of this nature. Dr. Lee’s post pertained to personal correspondence between her and an editor at Biology-Online about a possible assignment for that network. ”

    You use the word “personal” here twice. It was a professional experience; were DNLee not a professional scientist, it would not have occurred. It was professional correspondence; the writing concerned scientific work and the communication of scientific ideas and findings, both decidedly topics that are at the heart of DNLee’s profession.

    It is quite disheartening to me that when a woman is abused, you fall back on, “it was a private matter” even when it so obviously is a professional issue which bears on the scientific professions so broadly. This is the excuse that keeps marital rape legal to this very day in the jurisdictions where the majority of women live. Using this excuse now only makes it more likely that talented women will feel it is useless – or worse, risky – to speak up about racist and sexist abuse in the sciences, either as working scientists or as science students. The fact that you used this excuse immediately after pulling DNLee’s post on the matter is both an ironic and tragic compounding of your original error.

    I will look forward to your additional actions in this matter, but from your contradictory and accountability-avoiding behaviors so far, I am concerned that you are venturing down a path that would make my financial support for SciAm entirely untenable in the future.

    Link to this
  23. 23. rljacobson 4:35 pm 10/13/2013

    DiChristina’s statement above is in direct contradiction to DiChristina’s statement to Buzzfeed:

    “I’d like to elaborate on the original brief statement on Twitter that this blog fell outside Scientific American’s mission to communicate science. While we interpret that mission with a lot of latitude, Dr. Lee’s post went beyond and verged into the personal, and that’s why it was taken down. Dr. Lee’s post is out extensively in the blogosphere, which is appropriate. Dr. Lee is a valued member of the Scientific American blog network. In a related matter, Biology Online has an ad network relationship, and not an editorial one. Obviously, Scientific American does not want to be associated with activities that are detrimental to the productive communication of science. We are pursuing next steps.”
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelzarrell/blogger-writes-about-being-called-a-whore-scientific-america

    I don’t buy it, DiChristina. I don’t think many of us do.

    Link to this
  24. 24. We Came In Peace 4:39 pm 10/13/2013

    An apology to Dr. Danielle Lee would’ve gone a long way toward making things right and retain the goodwill of neutrals like myself. Sorry to see SciAm miss that train.

    Link to this
  25. 25. David Marjanović 4:43 pm 10/13/2013

    We recently removed a blog post by Dr. Danielle Lee that alleged a personal experience of this nature. Dr. Lee’s post pertained to personal correspondence between her and an editor at Biology-Online about a possible assignment for that network. Unfortunately, we could not quickly verify the facts of the blog post and consequently for legal reasons we had to remove the post.

    Oh, really.

    Think about it: how likely is it that Lee faked screenshots of e-mails she had received? What possible motive could she have for such an elaborate hoax? What a good actress must she be to work up enough fake anger for her video response?

    This affair is getting more ridiculous instead of less.

    Finally, the following is just factually wrong:
    “We recently removed a blog post by Dr. Danielle Lee that alleged a personal experience of this nature. Dr. Lee’s post pertained to personal correspondence between her and an editor at Biology-Online about a possible assignment for that network. ”

    You use the word “personal” here twice. It was a professional experience; were DNLee not a professional scientist, it would not have occurred. It was professional correspondence; the writing concerned scientific work and the communication of scientific ideas and findings, both decidedly topics that are at the heart of DNLee’s profession.

    It is quite disheartening to me that when a woman is abused, you fall back on, “it was a private matter” even when it so obviously is a professional issue which bears on the scientific professions so broadly.

    Quoted for truth.

    Link to this
  26. 26. David Marjanović 4:48 pm 10/13/2013

    Oh, I managed to overlook this bit:

    My brief attempt to clarify, posted with the belief that “saying something is better than saying nothing,” clearly had the opposite effect.

    Of course it had the opposite effect! You’re not somehow obliged to form an opinion based on too little information to form an opinion on! It would have been much better to come home relaxed, figure out what had happened, reinstate the post and apologize.

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  27. 27. Chris Ho-Stuart 5:08 pm 10/13/2013

    I’m inclined to give a bit of latitude for the problems of this cropping on the weekend. Not contacting Dr Lee directly is weird; in a world of phones and email, that was really bad. But moving on…

    Glad to hear about the feature article coming.

    One suggestion. I think it would be a really good idea to restore Dr Lee’s original response but with the emails and organization involved redacted. Sure, the information is out there; but at least that would confirm clearly that the issue for your bloggers here really is simply legal issues. (Assuming that is, that this third explanation really is the real reason…?)

    Dr Lee’s video was, by the way, very classy. It put the focus in general terms, on encouraging other young scientists to value their time and their work. That’s a great message and that Dr Lee was able to use the events to take her reply in that direction was first rate.

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  28. 28. Crip Dyke 5:28 pm 10/13/2013

    Chris Ho-Stuart suggesting restoring a redacted version of DNLee’s post, then went on to say:
    “that would confirm clearly that the issue for your bloggers here really is simply legal issues.”

    Look, I’m not a lawyer, I’m a law student. It will be years if ever for me to be competent to analyze in SciAm’s home jurisdiction, unless it happens to be British Columbia, Canada. But even I know enough to know that providing a platform on which writers can write unmoderated is much less risky than providing a platform and choosing to edit some posts but not others. The only reasonable inference is that the web host would have edited the unedited posts if they found anything objectionable within them.

    If you aren’t a lawyer, Chris Ho-Stuart, I really recommend against analyzing legal issues. I don’t run around saying that doctors should change their prescriptions to make clear that their concerns really were with faulty protein synthesis.

    Furthermore, since it was brought up, the very editing of this post without editing others makes no legal sense to me unless there’s some very specific and unusual legislation covering the jurisdiction of SciAm Blogs’ home jurisdiction. I doubt that they have the staff to review for legal liability every blog post. But now, if they don’t hire such staff, then anyone in the future who might have had a claim against a blogger also now has a claim against SAB.

    Again, I don’t even know SAB’s jurisdiction of incorporation (and even that wouldn’t guarantee a whole lot given the interjurisdictional nature of the internet and the choice of law rules when determining lex causae), but even as a simple reaction to a potential legal problem of liability this action doesn’t make a lot of sense.

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  29. 29. Witchsistah 5:40 pm 10/13/2013

    Why am I not surprised that a White woman was willing to throw a Black woman under the bus to preserve her own bennies?

    Link to this
  30. 30. Witchsistah 5:47 pm 10/13/2013

    #solidarityisforwhitewomen

    Link to this
  31. 31. Deoridhe 5:59 pm 10/13/2013

    SciAm is a publication for discovering science. This post is not appropriate for this area & therefore should be removed.

    Link to this
  32. 32. SoftLanding 6:13 pm 10/13/2013

    “Why am I not surprised that a White woman was willing to throw a Black woman under the bus to preserve her own bennies?”

    Ah! The Race Card! I was wondering how long it would be before THAT was played! LOL!

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  33. 33. RogerTheGeek 6:18 pm 10/13/2013

    The best way to recover from a total screw up is to stop, apologize, and try to make things as right as you can.
    You made a mistake and then multiplied the problem by making up some silly excuse. Beg for forgiveness and start the healing process.
    The other gorilla in the room is the identification of the other blog editor. He should be the one feeling the heat and no one seems to be able to identify him.

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  34. 34. SoftLanding 6:30 pm 10/13/2013

    “The other gorilla in the room is the identification of the other blog editor. He should be the one feeling the heat and no one seems to be able to identify him.”

    Do you think that might be becuse he has nothing to do with … ready for it … Scientific American?

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  35. 35. larrywest42 6:36 pm 10/13/2013

    As others have said, the only way for SciAm to get out of the immediate mess is to apologize clearly and unequivocally, restore the blog post, and prevent further advertising by an organization such as this.

    Seriously, is it *really* that hard to see this? Stand up for a consistent set of principles and you can win back respect. We all make mistakes: do your best to rectify the situation and move on.

    Today’s popehat.com has a decent take on this, FWIW.

    L

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  36. 36. Shecky R 6:46 pm 10/13/2013

    We also need to hear directly from “Ofek” (and Biology-Online)… what in the world was he/she thinking (attempting to be humorous? sarcastic? clever/witty? provocative? derisive? or deliberately insulting???) On another forum site it was said that Ofek was a “recent hire” at Biology-Online — what corrective actions are being taken there?

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  37. 37. leahcaprice 6:47 pm 10/13/2013

    DNLee was unprofessional posting her personal life here, the whole thing is a disgrace where someone is getting accused of racism and sexism. The emails haven’t been verified either. This whole debacle smacks of a poor revenge attack from DNLee which is about to come crashing down….

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  38. 38. Witchsistah 6:49 pm 10/13/2013

    There is no race card, just plain ol’ reality.

    But you tried it.

    Link to this
  39. 39. SoftLanding 7:16 pm 10/13/2013

    Witchsistah,

    So you are climing that Ms. DiChristina (“Why am I not surprised that a White woman was willing to throw a Black woman under the bus to preserve her own bennies?”) removed Dr. Lee’s post because she is a racist.

    Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuure she is!

    LOL!

    Link to this
  40. 40. MichelleClement 7:25 pm 10/13/2013

    SoftLanding needs a 101 on institutional racism.

    Link to this
  41. 41. escherbach 7:27 pm 10/13/2013

    In the end it’s SciAm’s fault for making a big issue of the fact that they’re so big on women and minorities issues – they should just stick to science and avoid sociologal debates.

    If they’d done that, then this case could be analysed for exactly what it is – a completely unusual email exchange.

    Link to this
  42. 42. escherbach 7:28 pm 10/13/2013

    In the end it’s SciAm’s fault for making a big issue of the fact that they’re so big on women and minorities issues – they should just stick to science and avoid sociological debates.

    If they’d done that, then this case could be analysed for exactly what it is – a completely unusual email exchange.

    Link to this
  43. 43. escherbach 7:30 pm 10/13/2013

    In the end it’s SciAm’s fault for making a big issue of the fact that they’re so big on women and minorities issues – they should just stick to science and avoid sociological debates.

    If they’d done that, then this case could be analysed for exactly what it is – a completely usual email exchange.

    Link to this
  44. 44. FloridaFarmer 7:39 pm 10/13/2013

    “Unfortunately, we could not quickly verify the facts of the blog post and consequently for legal reasons we had to remove the post. ”

    Do you perform this same verification on personal posts by your other authors, or is it reserved only for instances when a blogger is asked if she is a whore for politely declining to provide content, gratis, when asked to do so?

    Your (new) explanation makes about as much sense as your original tweet: not much. It seems rather odd to me – as a web host myself – that you would pull the content short of contact from the person/entity in question claiming is was fabricated. Given how quickly the post was pulled, that seems unlikely, although I suppose it is in the realm of tiny possibilities.

    Link to this
  45. 45. SoftLanding 7:40 pm 10/13/2013

    MichelleClement,

    “SoftLanding needs a 101 on institutional racism.”

    You are confused.

    Witchsistah referred to, and I’ll quote, “Why am I not surprised that a White woman was willing to throw a Black woman under the bus to preserve her own bennies?” NOT to an institution, but to an individual. A White woman. A White woman at SCIAM. Now who might THAT be? I’ll give you three guesses. Take your time. I’ve learned to be patient with some people.

    Link to this
  46. 46. DRJlaw 7:47 pm 10/13/2013

    “Unfortunately, we could not quickly verify the facts of the blog post and consequently for legal reasons we had to remove the post.”

    Fire your attorneys. Now. Because any competent attorney would have advised you that there was a section of the Communications Decency Act specifically enacted to prevent services such as yours from being liable for content posted by its users.

    47 USC 230(c)(1):
    “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider. ”

    47 USC 230(f)(3):
    “The term ‘information content provider’ means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.”

    I expect the editor of a scientific publication to treat the law in the same manner as he or she treats science — shoddy research, half truths, and fabrications should not be tolerated. Ever.

    Please addressand correct this error on your part as soon as possible.

    Link to this
  47. 47. abolitionist 7:51 pm 10/13/2013

    @43. Escherbach

    “In the end it’s SciAm’s fault for making a big issue of the fact that they’re so big on women and minorities issues – they should just stick to science and avoid sociological debates.”

    Hmmmm. Stick to Science at SciAm. You know, I couldn’t agree more – but I fear that such will be a hard sell.

    “If they’d done that, then this case could be analysed for exactly what it is – a completely usual email exchange.”

    I hope I successfully avoid such a usual email exchange, and I wouldn’t wish one like that on anyone else.

    Link to this
  48. 48. makanaima 7:51 pm 10/13/2013

    Way to backpedal. How about instead of excuses about dying phone, bad cell reception you offer an apology? This sort of behaviour is unconscionable. You know, typically good editors will stand behind their people. Seems like you are more interested in C.Y.A. than doing what is right.

    I’ve always thought of SA publication with class and integrity; I routinely buy issues, however, you Mariette, have deeply tarnished their image as far as I’m concerned. I will think twice when reaching the magazine shelf next time. Perhaps it’s time to give another publication a shot.

    Link to this
  49. 49. Chris Ho-Stuart 8:08 pm 10/13/2013

    Hi Crip Dyke; thanks for your comments on legal issues.

    You’re right; I’m not a lawyer. Honestly, in comment 27 I wasn’t even thinking in terms of legal advice. I can’t evaluate that.

    Furthermore, you make excellent points about editing content. On reflection, I agree without reservation that sciam should not be attempting to edit content of their bloggers.

    My own view is that in general, it’s a good idea to obscure email addresses, and so I offer that as a suggestion. It seemed to me that this was the only credible basis for objection to the post. But you’re right. It should not be given as a suggestion for Scientific American to edit Dr Lee’s post! I retract — such a decision should be entirely up to Dr Lee.

    Given that she is evidently happy to have had her message out there widely available; my thought was redundant.

    Scientific American has missed the bus on that and made a thorough mess of the explanations. On the other hand I’m glad to hear that they are considering a feature article on the matter and consulting with Dr Lee and others on it.

    Link to this
  50. 50. escherbach 8:15 pm 10/13/2013

    @47 abolitionist

    Seriously? You’ve never been dissed via email or other internet exchange? The reply was perhaps just a pretty dumb attempt at humour building on the already pready silly/dumb moniker “urban scientist”.

    It’s amusing to see left-wing sympathetic people and fanatics just get in a muddle over this

    Link to this
  51. 51. Laughing14 8:29 pm 10/13/2013

    As usual, lots of people have lots to say on this without “walking a mile in another’s shoes.” Ms. DiChristina, it seems you handled this thoroughly and professionally. When threatened with a lawsuit over a personal matter, I understand the desire to back out. Makes sense to me and I think you’ve already explained far more than you need to. Especially for some of the commenters above who seem, like so many net-people, to want to complain about something, anything. SciAm remains a great site, so good, in fact, I just subscribed to the print and can’t wait for the first ish. Thanks and please continue to offer your best!

    Link to this
  52. 52. andyo 8:32 pm 10/13/2013

    Ah, the “should stick to science” contingent. Surely you mean science like global warming and evolution, yes? You would like that, right?

    Link to this
  53. 53. abolitionist 8:45 pm 10/13/2013

    @50. escherbach

    “Seriously? You’ve never been dissed via email or other internet exchange?”

    While the following admission may mark me as somehow incomplete in the eyes of a select few, I must admit that I have, to date, been fortunate enough to have avoided the usual “are you an urban whore?” email exchange.

    How about you?

    Link to this
  54. 54. escherbach 8:50 pm 10/13/2013

    @52 andyo

    your comment is depressing. The fact that an apparent idiot like you can compare the science of global warming to the science of evolution shows just what a bad job popular publications like SciAm are doing.

    Link to this
  55. 55. escherbach 8:52 pm 10/13/2013

    @53 abolitionist

    No you’re just incomplete – really, interact with more diverse humans more often.

    Link to this
  56. 56. abolitionist 9:08 pm 10/13/2013

    @55. escherbach,

    “No you’re just incomplete”

    I see that you are one of a select few. Congrats!

    … but I still agree with you that SciAm should Stick to Science, and that using it to complain about her mistreatment at another site was inappropriate.

    Link to this
  57. 57. andyo 9:11 pm 10/13/2013

    escherbach,

    Please, tell me more about the differences between the science of global warming and evolution.

    Link to this
  58. 58. escherbach 9:19 pm 10/13/2013

    @56 abolitionist

    oh dear, my point was that the whole nonsense wouldn’t have arisen if SciAm EITHER 1. Allowed her blog post OR 2. Deleted it BECAUSE THEY HAVE NEVER DONE SOCIOLOGICAL COMMMENT

    (obviously 2 is impossible)

    Link to this
  59. 59. MonicaMetzler 9:20 pm 10/13/2013

    The entire reason for the existence of @SciAm and its blogs is science communication/outreach. I spend a lot of time helping scientists improve their communication practices. This entire incident is, sadly, a perfect example of violating Rule #1 in science communication — Know and Respect Your Audience. Always, always, always consider how your audience will hear and interpret what you say.

    In this situation, Biology Online’s “Ofek” clearly did not know, or respect, his/her audience. And Ms. DiChristina, perhaps due to lack of time and/or complete information, was not able to consider how her SciAm audience would interpret her brief message about removing the post. Science communication is difficult, no question, but it is critical. So it’s unfortunate this incident detracts from the good communication regularly done by Dr. Lee, SciAm and all its bloggers.

    Link to this
  60. 60. escherbach 9:26 pm 10/13/2013

    @57 andyo

    Go to Library, or google for books on each topic.

    One of the subjects will have a long history with great books and papers published in esteemed journals the other will be mostly loads of recent magazine/newspaper articles

    Link to this
  61. 61. SilverTusk 9:45 pm 10/13/2013

    “tell me more about the differences between the science of global warming and evolution.”

    Well, one is a bunch of hot air, if that helps.

    Link to this
  62. 62. andyo 9:47 pm 10/13/2013

    Thanks, stick-to-the-science guys, for confirming my hunch.

    Link to this
  63. 63. SilverTusk 9:49 pm 10/13/2013

    Hey! I’m here for you, dude. Anything for a kindred spirit.

    Link to this
  64. 64. andyo 9:54 pm 10/13/2013

    Anyway, back on topic: Notpology noted. You just made things worse out of what should have been a pretty clear-cut case.

    Link to this
  65. 65. max_fischetti 10:29 pm 10/13/2013

    A sorry non-apology, full of inconsistencies and lame excuses. Dr. DiChristina should resign from her job as Editor-in-chief. I am also sorry that my high opinion of Scientific American, confirmed over 40 years, has been destroyed in one swift stroke.

    Link to this
  66. 66. kaldari 11:05 pm 10/13/2013

    I have to agree with Standback, this is one of the worst non-apologies I’ve ever read. It claims that the blog was deleted due to legal reason, but…
    1. This is very different than the excuse given on Twitter.
    2. Why didn’t SciAm at least email DNLee if they had concerns about the accuracy of the post.
    3. Why would SciAm suspect that DNLee wasn’t telling the truth anyway? She even posted screenshots.
    4. There’s been plenty of time to verify the facts by now, but the blog post hasn’t been restored.
    Frankly, it smells like backpedaling to me, and not even very convincing backpedaling. I would expect Scientific American to acknowledge that it made a mistake and apologize, not invent convoluted excuses and waive its hands in the air. What a disappointing response.

    Link to this
  67. 67. SallyStrangelove 11:21 pm 10/13/2013

    “Why am I not surprised that a White woman was willing to throw a Black woman under the bus to preserve her own bennies?”

    Ah! The Race Card! I was wondering how long it would be before THAT was played! LOL!

    Ah! You played the “Playing the Race Card” Card! I was wondering how long it would be before THAT was played! LMFAO!

    Link to this
  68. 68. geoffrey.landis 11:46 pm 10/13/2013

    “We would like to make clear that Biology-Online is neither a part of Scientific American, nor a “content partner.” “

    Biology-Online was listed on the Scientific American web page of partner sites as October 4: http://web.archive.org/web/20131004230702/http://www.scientificamerican.com/partners/

    but is not listed as a partner site now: http://www.scientificamerican.com/partners/

    So it may be true right now that “Biology-Online is… [not] a “content partner”– but when the event in question occurred, it was.

    Link to this
  69. 69. David Kroll 11:54 pm 10/13/2013

    Mariette, this whole episode pains me because I deeply respect all of the parties involved. You indeed have a long track record for supporting equality in science and science journalism. It’s taken me 18 hours and 2,500 words to write my own thoughts.

    A more forceful and unconditional apology to Danielle, defense of her professional stance, and strong expression of confidence that her account was adequate substantiation of the facts might have defused some of today’s unpleasantness. But I really hope that this episode leads to introspection and long-term understanding and appreciation for substantive inclusion and diversity of voices. Raising these uncomfortable and messy issues and being mindful of them in all of our actions is one benefit that might emerge from this case.

    Link to this
  70. 70. Andurian 12:22 am 10/14/2013

    I am in wholehearted agreement with any number of previous comments. The tweet made as explanation clearly blamed the blog’s content as inappropriate because it wasn’t relevant to “discovering science.” The explanation you gave above describes the content of the removed blog as only troublesome for potential legal reasons. These two explanations are at odds with each other, which points to an intellectual dishonesty rather unfortunate to see from a science magazine.

    You state that you regret not being able to inform the blog author prior to removing the blog entry. Do you also regret not promptly informing her *after* the removal of the blog entry the precise reason(s) her blog was removed for? Your failure to do so shows an unfortunate and serious lack of professional courtesy.

    My best guess is that your tweet gave, in fact, your actual reason for removing the blog entry. Namely, you didn’t believe that the blog author’s mistreatment was topically appropriate. And, after all, why be courteous to a paid author who doesn’t know her boundaries? Only after the internet caught wind of your sad and unfortunate choices did you decide to backpedal. And, alas, not even backpedal enough to make an apology.

    Link to this
  71. 71. SoftLanding 5:41 am 10/14/2013

    SallyStrangelove

    Ah! You played the “You played the ‘Playing the Race Card’ Card” Card! I was wondering how long it would be before THAT was played!

    ROFL! (If the revised international standard rules are in play)

    Link to this
  72. 72. 174685 5:46 am 10/14/2013

    You know, this doesn’t make me feel one iota better about Scientific American, which until this stupidity I had always seen as a decent, sensible, trustworthy publication.

    All I hear from this post is that:
    (1) you don’t think you did anything wrong.
    (2) you’re dishonest. Either you removed the post for being off-topic, or you removed it for legal reasons, or you removed it for a third reason you won’t name. Either way, you’ve intentionally mislead your readership without a hint of compunction.
    (3) despite some mumblings about a feature article that might or might not actually see print (in case you haven’t guessed, I don’t entirely trust you), you still don’t think D. N. Lee’s voice as a woman of science is worthy of a blog post.

    No doubt you’re a decent human being, Mariette. But right now I would not shake your hand.

    Link to this
  73. 73. mquigley 5:51 am 10/14/2013

    Oct 11: “Re blog inquiry: @sciam is a publication for discovering science. The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed.”

    Oct 13: “In removing the post, we were in no way commenting upon the substance of the post, but reflecting that the underlying facts were not confirmed.”

    Which statement is true? You wrote them both. You’re the only one that can tell us.

    Link to this
  74. 74. galexand 9:14 am 10/14/2013

    I value a principle which may be wrong, but which I value nonetheless: the remedy to bad speech is more speech. If Dr. Lee made mistaken claims, I have a principled belief that the correct resolution is to make public counterclaims.

    If this were just my principle, Ms. DiChristina and I would simply have a disagreement over values — either or even both of us could be correct. Unfortunately, this principle that I value so deeply is the core concept behind science. In her private life, Ms. DiChristina may hold other values, but in her pursuit of science she is simply unconditionally wrong to attempt to resolve a factual question with censorship.

    Link to this
  75. 75. LarryW 9:58 am 10/14/2013

    I haven’t read Lee’s post, so I don’t know what was said that was construed as “off topic”. Certainly, it’s quite “on topic” and in no way “personal” for Lee to have blogged about her treatment as a professional by some organization Biology Online.

    Science and science research does not exist in a vacuum — a society at large, government policy, funding and internecine battles (or lack thereof) within scientific circles can and do have significant impacts on the “search for truth”. Certainly these issues have a personal consequences for the people involved but these issues have a broad professional impact as well and should be addressed. Lee’s post (likely?) fit within these parameters, and therefore was appropriate for SCIAM to address. They were on point.

    Link to this
  76. 76. drafterman 10:50 am 10/14/2013

    A Message TO Mariette DiChristina, Editor in Chief:

    This is what you should have done:
    http://www.biology-online.org/biology-forum/about34647.html

    Link to this
  77. 77. EvanCiv 10:56 am 10/14/2013

    On Twitter, MDC wrote

    “The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed.”

    In this blog post, MDC writes:

    “[I] regret the delay in providing a fuller response. … I wish I had simply promised a fuller reply when I was able to be better connected and more thorough.”

    Well, here is the blog post with “a fuller response” that does not mention a single word about it not being “appropriate for this area” but instead talks about a flimsy “law” excuse.

    That is NOT a fuller response of “not appropriate for this area” but a complete change of the reason why it was removed.

    Maybe MDC should look up the Streisand Effect and how to handle it. Changing your story in mid-stream is NOT the way to go about it. It just draws even more attention to it and causes the writer to lose all credibility.

    No one believes that a ‘rushed timeline’ is a cause of writing something that is clearly false. Why would not having much time cause someone to write an excuse that, according to the same writer’s blog post, is not even true?

    This is turning into a textbook lesson on how NOT to handle this sort of thing.

    Link to this
  78. 78. SoftLanding 11:04 am 10/14/2013

    Following in the footsteps of Alan Sokal (http://tinyurl.com/emmrd) and John Bohannon (http://tinyurl.com/klclc59), I have conducted a modest, uncontrolled test.

    What has been roundly condemned here is an editorial decision to suppress certain posts.

    As many of the posters and several of the bloggers have excoriated Ms. DiChristina for this purported ethical faux pas, I thought it reasonable to assess her behavior in the light of theirs.

    I engaged one of the bloggers @Sciam in a conversation about this censorship issue, and once the blogger became dissatisfied with the direction the conversation took, the blogger elected to suppress the last two of my posts.

    The first of the suppressed posts, followed by its url:
    SoftLanding 10:15 pm 10/13/2013

    Without agreement about what constitutes data for evaluation there seems little scope for a reasoned debate.

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/context-and-variation/2013/10/12/this-is-not-a-post-about-discovering-science/#comment-1283

    The second of the posts:
    SoftLanding 10:29 pm 10/13/2013

    One more point, if I may. The raw material is not in your blogs. As you’ll recall, Dr. Lee’s was removed. A comparison of it against any texts of yours will be difficult without it.

    Neither post will display.

    I note with interest that the blogger in question has not only suppressed those posts for what was doubtless thought to be an inappropriate POV, but has subsequently posted another entry in the blog: Why #standingwithDNLee’s Orientation towards SciAm Was So Important

    This blogger has actively engaged in the behavior condemned before and after the posts in question.

    Given this example of the caliber of blogger here, I’ll not be returning to Scientific American blogs (although some are quite readable). But I’ll leave with an upbeat quote, “But don’t go away. Don’t shrink, don’t hide, don’t avoid. Lead in this moment, because you’ll be a better organization for it.” (http://tinyurl.com/lzjupro)

    Link to this
  79. 79. David Marjanović 11:10 am 10/14/2013

    biology online has fired Ofek.

    It’s amusing to see left-wing sympathetic people and fanatics just get in a muddle over this

    Troll.

    Ah! You played the “Playing the Race Card” Card! I was wondering how long it would be before THAT was played! LMFAO!

    Seconded.

    Link to this
  80. 80. rpare 11:30 am 10/14/2013

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

    Archive.org crawl 10/13/2013
    Biology-Online.org listed on “www.scientificamerican.com/partners/”
    http://web.archive.org/web/20131013105744/http://www.scientificamerican.com/partners/

    Link to this
  81. 81. skemper 1:31 pm 10/14/2013

    Pretty ironic that celebrating a racist holiday interfered with SciAm’s ability to address issues of racism and sexism in science.

    Link to this
  82. 82. porlob 1:39 pm 10/14/2013

    Given that Biology-Online has now acknowledged that the relevant details of correspondence with Dr. Lee, and therefore ensured that the legal aspect is no longer a concern, I presume we’ll see her post restored now, no?

    Link to this
  83. 83. michaelm68 2:02 pm 10/14/2013

    As a long-time reader of Scientific American, I call upon you to support your contributor. Believe what she says. Restore her post. As far as I am concerned, this affair is costing you a lot of the goodwill you have built up over the years.

    Link to this
  84. 84. jonmoulton 2:11 pm 10/14/2013

    I see that Dr. Lee’s blog post has not yet been restored. This disappoints me.

    Link to this
  85. 85. M Tucker 3:07 pm 10/14/2013

    Shame on Scientific American for the abysmal way this was handled. Shame on SA for its inablility to express an actual apology.

    I stand with DNLee!

    “Here are a few things Sci Am could do that would be impactful: hold a live webchat to talk about what happened, and be ready to hear some very angry people and say sorry over and over again. Change the editorial policy that posts can be taken down at any time to one where they are left up until proven inaccurate. Apologize for taking the post down in the first place. Risk making mistakes rather than make mistakes through inaction. Invite scholars to the office who study gender and race intersectionality, discuss and learn from each other how to make a new set of boundaries. Highlight STEM topics that honor our explicit, not implicit boundaries in your magazines. Reach out to non-white male readers. Partner with organizations and corporations that are already successful at this.”

    (DiChristina you know where this came from I do not need to supply a link)

    Link to this
  86. 86. Lingster 3:25 pm 10/14/2013

    I think an apology is overdue. Shame on Scientific American!

    Link to this
  87. 87. aliceparker 4:13 pm 10/14/2013

    Maybe Scientific American should remove this message – without consulting the author – for “legal” reasons.

    An apology is overdue.

    Link to this
  88. 88. lifesciatty 4:16 pm 10/14/2013

    This explanation that they had to remove the post for “legal reasons” is pretty lame. I’m an attorney and I know no legal liability was created by that blog post. I can only imagine that they just didn’t want another publisher maligned for courtesy reasons, but in order to do that they threw Dr. Lee under the bus. Sad to see. I’m very disappointed in SciAm.

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  89. 89. FloridaFarmer 5:34 pm 10/14/2013

    @SoftLanding

    No, I think the issue is more likely that you’re just engaging in trolling. The individual’s blogs are theirs (as they understand it) to do with as they see fit. That includes not putting up with people who demand they provide their content to some random individual to do some type of analysis when that content is readily available for someone willing to do the work themselves instead of writing rather pompous comments in that individual’s blog.

    You may think Dr. Lee’s post was inappropriate to air what you seem to think is a hissy fit; however, others (myself included) view it as a rather important statement on women and science – would, for instance, the rejected Ofek have responded with the same question to a man? Answer: very unlikely. Not only was the content topically appropriate, despite the initial tweet about why it was removed, there was no legal issue with it, given that the events did actually occur. SciAm bungled this, badly.

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  90. 90. edrowland 5:37 pm 10/14/2013

    I’ve been reading Scientific American for 40 years now. Watching Scientific American’s awkward adjustments to life in a new-media world has been painful, and, for the most part, disappointing. Events of the last few days paint a disconcerting picture of SA’s strategy for leveraging the blogosphere to enhance SAs presence on the internet.

    While I disagree with your characterization of events that took place as “personal”, I do find it peculiar and disturbing that you think that blogs should not be personal. To me, that seems to reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of what blogs are all about. Blogs are, by their very nature, personal. If I want without personalities, I’ll go read news articles (somewhere else, unfortunately, where this story has been written about three or four times already before you even get back from your long weekend).

    It’s not that I begrudge your long weekend spent with family and friends. I think what upsets me more than anything else is what it reveals about SA’s chaotic and disorganized strategy for incorporating “new” media into the SA brand. You don’t seem to have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish by bringing blogging into the SA brand; because if you did, I just can’t imagine why you would react this way.

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  91. 91. David Marjanović 5:43 pm 10/14/2013

    You don’t seem to have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish by bringing blogging into the SA brand;

    As far as I can tell, they want the blogs to act as advertisements for SciAm, but haven’t thought about how that might actually work.

    Like, we can’t even use the blockquote tag here. Whoever put that restriction in must have believed discussions never develop on blogs, comments are only so people can say “keep up the good work” 20 times over. *headdesk*

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  92. 92. abolitionist 6:50 pm 10/14/2013

    “The individual’s blogs are theirs (as they understand it) to do with as they see fit.”

    Surely you accept that is true only up to a point: “Scientific American bloggers are informed that we may remove their blog posts at any time when they agree to blog for us.”

    “people who demand they provide their content”

    Assuming we are referring to the same posts, where did you read SoftLanding demand anything from anyone? My reading of those posts was that they were an attempt to engage with others on the problem of DNLee’s removed posts

    “rather pompous comments”

    I understand pompous to mean a post with an ostentatious display of dignity or importance. Which pompous comments are you referring to?

    “SciAm bungled this, badly”

    While that may be true, why are you attacking the individual, SoftLanding, who carefully explained the methodology, rather than questioning the methodology or the results of the test?

    Link to this
  93. 93. Paulkingsley 7:48 pm 10/14/2013

    This one is simple. Put the blog post backup. Say it is the responsibility of the author. These are issues that should be promoted by sci am, not run from. Do the RIGHT thing here. Put it back up.

    Link to this
  94. 94. radar123 7:58 pm 10/14/2013

    I made an account specifically to comment on this, because I would have expected better of Scientific American. The excuses in this post are incredibly flimsy – as evidenced by the decision to repost the story when you got caught.

    I’ll make sure to keep that in mind next time I’m considering picking up a copy of your magazine.

    Link to this
  95. 95. FloridaFarmer 8:24 pm 10/14/2013

    @abolitionist

    (My apologies; the comment to which you are referring should have been posted to Dr. Clancy’s comment stream in which you, I, and SoftLanding have commented – the perils of too many tabs and the same names popping up in comments. My further commentary below will put it in context.)

    Part of this is carryover from the comments this person made on another blogger’s post (Dr. Clancy) related to the issue, which I found by following the link in his/her comment here.

    Yes, I accept the fact that SciAm is ultimately in (technical) control of everything under their umbrella, but also accept that it appears, or they give the appearance, that they do not actively monitor content, much like other service providers. Thus far at least some of their bloggers have said they themselves have not felt any constraints, even if SciAm says they may remove content. To quote from Dr. Clancy’s comment on her post in response to someone from her own blog:

    “MissionHelper, thanks for your comment. What is upsetting to us SciAm bloggers is that we were told we had FULL editorial control. Not sure what to write about? Put up a cat video, fine with us! Want to write personally? Sure! Many of us came to this network BECAUSE we were assured of this full editorial control.”

    If they decided this one post by this one author was not topically appropriate, then they are indicating they do in fact actively monitor content, and this one “personal”, and “topically inappropriate” post was selected, out of all the personal and not-science-related posts other bloggers have posted. Ergo, perceived double standard, done for reasons they have not been able to communicate successfully.

    If, on the other hand, it was some “legal issue”, then yes, deal with it, in whatever form it took. That is also their right as the umbrella for the content herein; however, it appears this claim of some nebulous legal issue is not entirely believable, since there doesn’t appear to be one to be found.

    I am not attacking SoftLanding personally: I am attacking the tone of his/her pronouncements on all this, which I perceive to be pompous and demanding, both here and as part of that carryover from Dr. Clancy’s blog, where both MissionHelper and SoftLanding, assuming they are in fact two different people, have basically posted what amount to a demand to Dr. Clancy to provide content to compare, so they can “test”:

    “That’s why I like Mission Helper’s proposal of a textual analysis. You’ve listed by my count at least five areas where you equate your posts to Dr. Lee’s. Fair enough. Identify the ones you feel are most like Dr. Lee’s, and once the details of Dr. Lee’s post are agreed upon (some of the posters may be aware of more of those details than others), the similarities and dissimilarities can be identified and discussed.

    Such an approach would produce a less emotion-laden and more objective response to your question.”

    It’s rather pompous (to me) to instruct someone to not only provide something of their own already linked at the very top of the article on which you’re commenting, but to decide you are the arbiter of which direction things should take from this point – on their blog. There is also a world of difference between SciAm removing an entire post and “testing” a blogger controlling comments – particularly when those comments appear to be disingenuous (claiming Dr. Lee’s post is not available for comparison, for instance, as he/she indicates as one of the comments that was “suppressed” – it is, just not here, and is incredibly easy to find were one willing to do their own work) and/or trolling. Or perhaps the blogger in question was not in the mood for a lecture on how they should proceed on their own blog in relation to this issue. Suppression would, to me, mean the removal of all of SoftLanding’s comments.

    In the end, the only people who know why SciAm pulled the post are SciAm. No amount of “textual analysis” or anything else is going to answer that question of why, because this is not some unemotional, strictly objective issue. Thus far, their answers as to why are contradictory. I am well aware that they are under no obligation to provide the why to this: it is their site, after all. But I submit that it would do them a world of good to just say something like, “We saw the post as something that could be perceived as a personal attack against another party, and removed the post for that reason. While we should have notified Dr. Lee prior to doing that – or, asked her to remove/edit it voluntarily – our bloggers are aware that we may remove content from their blogs as a condition of their use of our platform. We apologize to Dr. Lee for not discussing this with her before this action or notifying her that the post was being removed for the reasons that would have been provided to her in that notification.”

    Some may have agreed with that. Others may not have agreed with that, and the general feeling I’m getting is that people did not see it as a personal attack on Ofek, but rather a commentary on women (and in particular women of color) in STEM, but as you say, we can all agree that it is SciAm’s site, and the bloggers within operate under their terms.

    Link to this
  96. 96. zweihander 9:03 pm 10/14/2013

    So… just for clarification…

    “Unfortunately, we could not quickly verify the facts of the blog post and consequently for legal reasons we had to remove the post.”

    Does that apply to all blog posts made here? Or just ones where the opportunity exists to deny an accomplished author the presumption of truthfulness and throw them under the bus?

    Link to this
  97. 97. Mr. P 9:28 pm 10/14/2013

    I am a lawyer. Under the Communications Decency Act of 1995, Scientific American cannot be held liable for anything posted in a blog that it hosts. That’s the law – if the law were otherwise, blogging wouldn’t work, because every host would have to fact-check every blog first, and that’s impossible. So IMO Scientific American did not delete Dr. Lee’s blog for fear of legal repercussions, but for some other unstated reason.

    Link to this
  98. 98. abolitionist 10:01 pm 10/14/2013

    FloridaFarmer,

    “the perils of too many tabs and the same names popping up in comments”

    NP. Stuff happens.

    “I am not attacking SoftLanding personally: I am attacking the tone of his/her pronouncements on all this, which I perceive to be pompous and demanding, both here and as part of that carryover from Dr. Clancy’s blog, where both MissionHelper and SoftLanding, assuming they are in fact two different people, have basically posted what amount to a demand to Dr. Clancy to provide content to compare, so they can “test”:”

    While there are always different interpretations of any text, as I read the post you copied, SoftLanding suggested that the comparison could show what might have been considered “inappropriate” by comparing it to text that was used, to quote Dr. Clancy, “… for these sorts of things All. The. Time.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds to me like a reasonable response to Dr. Clancy’s question, “Why have I never been censored but Dr. Lee was. That is the question.” How else to try?

    “It’s rather pompous (to me) to instruct someone to not only provide something of their own already linked at the very top of the article on which you’re commenting”

    Dr. Clancy identified several different occasions when she posted without editorial problems text which Dr. Lee’s equivalent was removed. SoftLanding appears to have requested those most like Dr. Lee’s be selected for comprison. Dr. Clancy would be the best judge of that, wouldn’t you agree? Sorry, I just don’t see the pomposity you’re referring to.

    “Suppression would, to me, mean the removal of all of SoftLanding’s comments.”

    He/she only identified two that were suppressed by Dr. Clancy.

    “No amount of “textual analysis” or anything else is going to answer that question of why, because this is not some unemotional, strictly objective issue.”

    Textual analysis is seldom conclusive, but it is often illuminating, and it would provide a less emotional criticism of SA’s editorial decisions. This could be quite useful when trying to get policy changed.

    “we can all agree that it is SciAm’s site, and the bloggers within operate under their terms.”

    Yes, and with good faith efforts from all, it will be many moons before similar unpleasantries occur here again.

    Link to this
  99. 99. Bee 4:52 am 10/15/2013

    I think you handled this well. Nobody is perfect.

    Link to this
  100. 100. FloridaFarmer 9:32 am 10/15/2013

    @abolitionist

    “NP. Stuff happens.”

    That it does, that it does.

    I suppose the tone just particularly annoyed me, as do people who have had their say claiming they’re being suppressed when their original comments are still intact with only two comments – one of which is actually false (that the original post in question is not available), and one of which reads (to me, at least) as an indication that the blogger is not willing to do as they’ve been directed/asked.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on importance of the analysis item in this case. If Dr. Lee had posted something about someone calling her names after declining to provide free content, without using the word whore, and without the screencaps of the emails, and SciAm pulled that, then I would agree that it may be beneficial to examine that post against another that was also about a personal experience (say, one regarding tenure) and attempt to figure out the fundamental differences and why one would be subject to action and not the other. In this case, my guess is that someone freaked out unnecessarily, because Dr. Lee (ironically) provided screencaps of some of the very information that SciAm could have used to help satisfy claims they needed to verify the exchange (hello, mail headers!) and because the word whore popped up – a purely emotional response. SciAm continues to claim “legal reasons”, which is nonsense, but at least they’re putting the post back. I’m disappointed they seem to lack confidence in one of their own bloggers and that they still have not directly apologized to Dr. Lee, preferring corporate speak notpologies (“we regret….”), but so it goes. I’m hopeful they’ll learn something about how to handle things like this in the future, while at the same time hoping the issue that set off this tinderbox is an uncommon thing that will not reignite itself.

    Link to this
  101. 101. David Marjanović 5:51 pm 10/15/2013

    The post is back up! :-)

    Link to this
  102. 102. Witchsistah 5:55 pm 10/15/2013

    Softlanding needs a lesson in a lot of things, including intersectionality, but they are too determined to shit all over a Black woman to care about anything else.

    Link to this
  103. 103. abolitionist 9:00 pm 10/15/2013

    FloridaFarmer,

    “We’ll have to agree to disagree on importance of the analysis item in this case.”

    Well, the question is moot, as Dr. Clancy decided against identifying the text of hers against which Dr. Lee’s might be compared and contrasted.

    It is always possible for reasonable people to disagree and remain civil – unlike some of the depressingly perfervid posters here.

    “only two comments – one of which is actually false (that the original post in question is not available), and one of which reads (to me, at least) as an indication that the blogger is not willing to do as they’ve been directed/asked.”

    Neither of the two posts that Dr. Clancy saw fit to not display is visible yet, and I thought the first Softlanding listed was trying to get engagement. Respectfully, “only two”? It was the suppression of Dr. Lee’s post that brought about this noisy fracas in the first place. It’s only “only” when it’s someone else’s post.

    “I’m hopeful they’ll learn something about how to handle things like this in the future, while at the same time hoping the issue that set off this tinderbox is an uncommon thing that will not reignite itself.”

    Publishing on the web certainly isn’t the same as when it killed trees, is it? I’m not optimistic about rapid change however. People in perceived positions of power and authority, as the good Ofek was (and others still are), have exploited others throughout history. Changing that will be a long, hard slog, imho.

    Link to this
  104. 104. FiftiesScientist 12:20 am 10/17/2013

    Well, this whole situation is a to-do! What a shame that a respected publication like Scientific American should be subject to the kind of muck-raking we normally associate with members of Congress.

    I know both Danielle and Bora personally, and can say that they are both smart, personable, talented people. That said, I have to wonder if there is not a fault of leadership regarding SciAm blogs given the way the scandal has evolved. The fact is that social media is not a print publication, and irrespective of the supposed “legal” ramifications of Danielle’s initial post, the editors should have erred on the side of allowing the post to stand. Taking it down, then letting it back up suggests incompetence at best, if not dissembling and deception, which is the last thing we’d expect of a science-based publication.

    Also worrisome are reports of Bora’s behaviour regarding women writers generally. Whether substantiated or not, the mere fact of such rumours casts a poor light on the whole community of science communicators. And this at a time when scientific integrity is being challenged on the most spurious grounds.

    So it’s sad that a talented writer such as Bora, who is only human after all, should suffer the fallout from this incident, but we, as scientists, have to hold ourselves to the highest standards of personal integrity. And in that respect, Bora let down his own fellow family of science writers. Is an apology enough? Maybe. But is it any guarantee to an end to his alleged sexual harrassment, and to the risk to Scientific American’s fine reputation and standing with subscribers and advertisers?

    “What hasn’t been resolved is an issue that the DNLee incident brought to light – a year-old allegation of sexual harassment levelled at Zivkovic by writer and playwright Monica Byrne. Dismayed by the DNLee affair, Byrne this week outed Zivkovic as the man making the creepy and inappropriate advances during a business meeting she had with him last year.”

    http://sciblogs.co.nz/griffins-gadgets/2013/10/17/science-social-media-and-sexual-harassment

    Link to this
  105. 105. FMSFM 2:07 am 10/18/2013

    Dear Mariette,
    Your response or lack thereof at the first instance of being made aware of this explains everything. Your team take their cue from you. You alone bear responsibility for this. Had you immediately sorted this out, we, the regular subscribers of your magazine would have seen this as a stand alone singular bad act by an employee which was dealt with correctly. Your delayed response and the obvious ‘buck passing’ in it means you still don’t get it. Science is all about truth and the pursuit of it. You were all about protecting your ass.
    You just lost a paying customer.

    Link to this
  106. 106. scientificr 7:57 am 10/21/2013

    > FMSFM:

    Your action is the ultimate concern of SA: losing customers. The editorial response reveals questionable judgement.

    Link to this
  107. 107. ruggerducky 6:19 pm 10/21/2013

    “We know that there are real and important issues regarding the treatment of women in science and women of color in science, both historically and currently, and are dismayed at the far too frequent cases in which women face prejudice and suffer inappropriate treatment as they strive for equality and respect.”

    Except that by pulling the blog post and then playing your sad game of ass-covering, you did exactly that.

    You, a woman, knowingly and intentionally shut the door in the face of a woman scientist. Who was in the right.

    Why not just call Dr. Lee a liar along with a whore? That’s essentially what your actions did. You blamed it on a lack of verification–and instead of asking her for the proof, you chose to be judge and jury and decide it was not true. Enough. Or something like that.

    Thanks for your big blowjob to the editor of Biology-Online, and the blow against women in STEM fields.

    Link to this

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