A fair and impartial judgment of the facts to assess guilt by a jury of one’s peers is a bedrock principle of our democracy. Otherwise known as Due Process, there is a presumption of innocence and the right to confront one’s accuser in a court of law with the burden of proof of guilt resting decidedly on the accuser. Sadly, that hasn’t happened in the case of Dr. Geoff Marcy and the other cases that are now being heard in the court of public opinion. Moreover, I never opined on the cases of Dr. Timothy Slater or Christian Ott, nor do I intend to.
In case it hasn’t been abundantly clear, I do not condone harassment of any kind in academia, the workplace or anywhere else, especially those forms of harassment that are deeply personal. My only interest in publishing this series of articles has been to appeal to the inherent fairness, goodwill and appreciation of the higher things by my fellow astronomers, both male and female. In addition to being accused of “protecting sexual harassers”, I have also been accused of being a “hater”. I suppose that, if one ignores the many statements I have made to the contrary regarding sexual harassment and, if one stands my statements on their head and turns them inside out, you could imagine, perhaps, in an alternative universe, that they could mean something else but, nowhere have I ever advocated violence or “hate” towards anyone, ever! Aside from being totally dishonest and disingenuous, these statements border on libelous. To state or suggest that I advocate violence, hate or any unwanted personal contact of any kind is repugnant and absurd on its face. These accusations were made against me simply because I advocated for the fair and impartial treatment of a world renown astronomer, possible Nobel Laureate and fellow colleague based on the facts as released and available as public record.
Based on the release of these documents, I maintain the position that Dr. Marcy was largely exonerated, that he has been maligned and was the victim of mob rule, tried, convicted and sentenced in the court of public opinion. Mob mentality and bullying continues and is fueled by amateur journalists writing stories for publications that most would consider tabloids, looking for a juicy story, or as a means to gain notoriety. As an example, the author of this story in Buzzfeed, the same author who published the first story back in October 9th of last year, the story that started this furor, has misstated the facts in the current article. To be clear, Dr. Marcy retired from his position, he did not resign. The remuneration he received in the end was consistent with his responsibilities as an outgoing tenured faculty member and his agreement with the department and the university. In so doing he behaved as a professional and as a gentleman, in deference to the Department of Astronomy and Berkeley, saving them from continued negative scrutiny.
As stated on their “about” page:
Buzzfeed is the social news and entertainment company. Buzzfeed is redefining online advertising with its social, content-driven publishing technology. Buzzfeed provides the most shareable breaking news, original reporting, entertainment, and video across the social web to its global audience of more than 200M.
This publication is a tabloid by anyone’s definition. That a world renown astronomer who may have been in line for a Nobel Prize had his career ruined because of a pat on the back and a kiss on the cheek was labeled something else by an unknown author writing for a tabloid is an absurdity but that is what has happened. Buzzfeed is a gossip column, more interested in “social, content-driven” articles that anything else. Relying on the author to behave as a trained journalist who is interested in the truth, many have joined the mob in attacking Geoff Marcy and have based their positions on half-truths and gossip published in a tabloid. To those of you who have done so and have attacked me for advocating for the truth, shame on you. How does that speak for your character, sense of fair play, integrity and moral judgement? Moreover, you attack me when all I ever was, in all of this, was an advocate for a fair and impartial judgement of the case based on the facts as completely revealed by Berkeley’s own OPHD. All of this material is publicly available on Dr. Marcy’s website.
It’s not surprising that the majority of traffic on this site has been to these articles, perhaps because more people are interested in gossip than astronomy. There are at least 30 other articles specifically related to astronomy but those are largely ignored, instead, the drama and gossip in academia and astronomy have drawn the most traffic; how sad.
This article is the latest in a series of four articles published on this website related to this topic; the other articles are, chronologically:
October 18th, 2015, Humiliated, World Renown Astronomer Resigns
January 14th, 2016, Amid Sexual Harassment Probe, Prestigious University Lowers Legal Standard
January 17th, 2016, Update to High Profile Astro Cases of SH
Just in case some have lost their way and have forgotten, the history of science and astronomy is replete with examples of mob rule, rush to judgement, ignoring he facts, bullying, extreme zealotry and willful ignorance. Just as a refresher to start with, those examples would include Hypatia (stoned to death), Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake) & Galileo Galilei. I reference them in this piece. We are no better than those who had persecuted these three (and many more) when we ignore authentic justice and allow ourselves to be governed by ignorance and mob rule. The world was deprived then of their remaining productivity and contributions and now, in the 21st century, it has happened again to a possible Nobel Laureate and esteemed, world-renowned astronomer. We continue to make the same mistakes and haven’t learned anything form the past; history repeats itself once again.
Lies, gossip and exaggerations need a newspaper but the truth speaks for itself.
Update: When Will It End?
Update: In act of blatant censorship, an Independent Petition opposing the public shaming of Professional Scientists has been disabled by the petition site administrator.