Rosetta Stones

Rosetta Stones

Adventures in the good science of rock-breaking.

I’m #standingwithDNLee – Why Isn’t SciAm?


First word: unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable. Here's the story:

Got back late from an action-packed day o' costuming madness, curled up for a few moments on Freethought Blogs while I consumed some dinner, and discovered this:"Guest post by DNLee: Tell Someone 'No', Get Called a 'Whore.'”

The Blog editor of Biology-Online dot org asked me if I would like to blog for them. I asked the conditions. He explained. I said no. He then called me out of my name.


It wasn’t just that he called me a whore – he juxtaposed it against my professional being: Are you urban scientist or an urban whore? Completely dismissing me as a scientist, a science communicator (whom he sought for my particular expertise), and someone who could offer something meaningful to his brand. What?

And it was an outrageous example of sexism that deserved all the amplification we could give it. I didn't see it on SciAm, but didn't think much of that - after all, DNLee might have decided herself not to post this on her own blog.

Silly me. Such a naive little assumption, taken out back and unceremoniously shot the following morning.

I was wondering why it wasn’t posted on DNLee’s own blog, The Urban Scientist, but that I was seeing it echoed all over the place. Turns out it was; but Scientific American removed it.

Mariette DiChristina ‏@mdichristina

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

First uh-oh. So SciAm is in the business of policing blog writers now?

Second uh-oh. Scientific American and biology online have partnered on subscriptions.

You know what, no.

This is completely unacceptable behavior from a blog network. So let me demonstrate a little something: when someone does something wrong, you do not throttle the people speaking out against it even when you are partners.

When a blog network does something wrong, you do not stay silent, even though it hurts like hell to call them out. Even at the risk of damaging or destroying a beneficial association. See how that works, Mariette DiChristina? The right thing is not always the easy thing, but being difficult or potentially damaging doesn't make it the wrong thing to do. The wrong thing, one of the worst wrong things a blog network can do, is censor a blogger because her criticism of your partner's bad behavior makes you unhappy. When your bottom line matters more than treating people decently and calling out inappropriate behavior when it happens, that is utterly wrong. And it is not the kind of behavior I expect from Scientific American.

Kate Clancy is #standingwithDNLee. I'm #standingwithDNLee. It seems like the entire science blogging community is #standingwithDNLee. Why isn't SciAm?

Explanations are in order. If anyone in charge of the network is unsure where to begin, they could perhaps start with Stephanie Zvan's list. I hope that after this initial debacle, our SciAm overlords will do the right thing, and stand with DNLee.

DNLee with her khanga. The writing on it says, “Give trouble to others, but not me.” Excellent advice, that.

DNLee with her khanga. The writing on it says, “Give trouble to others, but not me.” Excellent advice, that.

As for Biology Online, I do hope that SciAm's distraction doesn't prevent that publication from receiving all of the opprobrium they so richly deserve. Ofek: I hope you have learned a valuable lesson about how to appropriately respond to someone who is disinclined to write for your publication for free. I hope you have plenty of time to ponder it in the unemployment line.

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

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Email this Article