|From Clancy et al., PLoS ONE, 2014 SAFE Study|
In what follows, I will refer to the original complaint filed against me last September 30 as the "Original Complaint," and the formal complaint I was charged with answering as the "New Complaint," to (I hope) avoid confusion.
The Original Complaint.
In an earlier blog post, I described briefly how the Original Complaint came about and how it became public (in violation of NASW policies and procedures.)
The complaint remains online, and is easily found via a Google search; in a later post, I will put it online myself, but only when I am able to respond in detail to all of the allegations in it (but see below for the text of the New Complaint.)
The Original Complaint was filed with the organization on September 30, 2020, addressed to NASW executive director Tinsley Davis and president Jill Adams. It was signed by 10 active members of NASW and one person described as an "inactive member." The complaint concluded as follows:
"We therefore request a thorough review, statement of censure and removal of Michael Balter from the organization." [Italics added]
I recognized a few of the signatories as individuals I had engaged with in various ways on social media, but the great majority were individuals who I knew had no direct knowledge of my #MeToo reporting, most of which involved situations in anthropology and archaeology. That included the NASW member who coordinated the complaint and did most of the interviews for it, Bethany Brookshire, a staff writer at Science News for Students. I had never had any contact with Brookshire, nor her with me, and I did not know her; but she and Kate Clancy have a long association and friendship going back to at least 2016.
As Clancy describes the relationship on her Web site:
"Dr. Brookshire is also a blogger, which is how we met years ago, and a podcaster and host with Science for the People. Dr. Brookshire was the first person I turned to when I wanted to start my own podcast, and her advice has been crucial to me at several points this year. You can attribute many of the good things of this podcast to her, and none of the bad."
Clancy was also an invited author for a book Brookshire co-edited on science blogging, and Brookshire penned an article in 2016 about Clancy's own podcasting experiences. Since then, the two have had a close relationship on social media, often Re-Tweeting or commenting on each other's posts.
Clancy has claimed, in a sworn declaration, that she did not instigate the Original Complaint and was only tangential to it, but I have serious doubts that this characterization is accurate. For one thing, Clancy was fully involved in the episode that triggered the complaint, an online altercation last September between me and anthropology graduate student Hilary Leathem, formerly of the University of Chicago. Also, it is a reasonable hypothesis that Clancy put Brookshire, who has no special expertise in anthropology, in touch with the other three anthropologists whose "stories" figure in the Original Complaint.
As for Leathem, as I will detail in a future post, she took to Twitter at least three times to tell a completely false story about her interactions with me after she asked me to help her with a #MeToo situation. Clancy quickly weighed in, as she had done in previous situations involving me (see previous blog post for an earlier example):
Also, documents that Clancy produced in response to my subpoena show clearly that she and Brookshire were in close contact about the Original Complaint. Brookshire kept Clancy closely apprised, via email, of discussions about the complaint that took place on several NASW discussion groups after it was made public; and the following private message exchange raises a number of questions:
In this exchange from late December, Brookshire is in blue and Clancy responds in the dark field. Brookshire is referring to my argument, and that of some other NASW members, that the NASW complaint process had become hopelessly compromised once the document was made public.
But more even more troubling for due process in the Original Complaint is Bethany Brookshire's statement to Clancy that "people keep requesting access to the locked drive." Since the question of how the Original Complaint became public is highly relevant to the internal NASW process, this bears close examination. The New Complaint was delivered to me in a pdf that was password protected, and I think it is reasonable to assume that the Original Complaint, also in pdf form, was password protected as well. Clearly, Brookshire not only had the password, but other colleagues knew that she did. Who did she share it with? At this point, I do not claim to know, but I will report back on further investigations into this key question.
As I pointed out in the previous post, it should have been a red flag to the NASW board, and the review committee assigned to "investigate" the allegations, that all of the charges stemmed from my writing about #MeToo and bullying issues in anthropology and archaeology.
The New Complaint.
In an update to the previous post, I cited the very strict confidentiality requirements NASW put me under, including an admonition not to reveal the internal processes by which such complaints are handled. Out of respect for an organization I was an active member of for 35 years, I will only cite the specific allegations concerning Clancy below. However, Clancy has waived any "privacy" rights she might have had concerning her dispute with me, by her own behavior and by the fact that the entire Original Complaint is now public. As I will show (and demonstrated in the previous post), she is not a "victim" of harassment or bullying by me, but just the opposite.
Here are the charges that the NASW board asked me to answer:
So let me take these allegations in turn, beginning with the introduction and then the numbered sections.
It is correct that the Original Complaint, assembled by Bethany Brookshire, involves allegations by several individuals in anthropology and archaeology. I will respond to these now public allegations in future posts, and also give my views as to why--not surprisingly--my extensive reporting of #MeToo violations and bullying in these fields has raised alarm among some researchers. In addition to Clancy herself, the allegations concern Holly Dunsworth, an anthropologist at the University of Rhode Island, whose interactions with me back in 2017 and 2018 were exploited by Clancy and became her origins story for charges that I harassed and exploited survivors of abuse; Hilary Leathem, mentioned above, a rape survivor who, after contacting me and asking for help dealing with alleged stalking by her rapist, lied blatantly about our interactions and then doubled down when I produced conclusive proof of her dishonesty; and Akshay Sarathi, a former graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison--and now visiting professor at Indiana University--a former source for my reporting who helped engineer my removal from a Facebook group when he detected opposition to my reporting from some of its members. (In these later reports, I will also discuss the growing consensus among journalists that sources who lie to reporters can waive confidentiality and "off the record" agreements.)
1. To me, it seems absurd that a professional complaint against a journalist would include a private, albeit frank and sharp, email exchange between a reporter and an academic he had asked to comment for an article he was doing. But so be it, as Clancy obviously has her perspective on what happened, and I have mine.
A little background: I have long admired Kate Clancy, and still do in many ways, for the critical research she and her colleagues did on sexual harassment in academia and her continued advocacy for victims and survivors of harassment. (Clancy is also well known for her research on human reproduction.) I have known Clancy since 2015, when I began work on the Brian Richmond case for Science. The previous year, Clancy and three other colleagues had published a groundbreaking study of sexual harassment in field-based sciences such as archaeology, anthropology, and paleontology, which showed that such misconduct--which largely, although not entirely, targeted women--was rampant and was having a strongly deleterious effect on academic careers. The Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE) was enormously influential, and also gave a big boost to science journalists who were beginning to do #MeToo reporting, more than two years before the Harvey Weinstein cases made that a household word. For reporters such as Azeen Ghorayshi at BuzzFeed, Amy Harmon at the New York Times, Jeff Mervis and myself at Science, and others, the Clancy et al. study made clear that that the individual cases we were investigating were part of a much larger pattern. Indeed, I cited the SAFE study in my Richmond story and have continued to do so up to the present.
Thus, when I asked Clancy to comment about Title IX for a major 2016 sexual harassment investigation for The Verge, which involved the Smithsonian's Natural Museum of Natural History and Texas Tech University, I was happy that she obliged me. I sent the story to Clancy, who responded about only one aspect of it: That I had truncated a quote she had given me. As all reporters know, complaints about supposedly being misquoted are a very frequent occurrence.
In the New Complaint, this episode is discussed but turned on its head to say that I felt wronged by "a perceived lack of credit or praise for [my] reporting." In coming to this conclusion, the NASW Review Committee ascribed thoughts to me that I had not expressed; nor could the Committee have known what I was really thinking other than be reading the emails that Clancy provided to Brookshire as part of the Original Complaint. As I told Clancy at the time, I was keenly disappointed that she had not said anything about the importance of exposing very serious misconduct at two institutions, nor about the victims of that misconduct, and instead had focused on a relatively minor issue concerning her quotes--she had, in my view, "centered" herself, something she has accused me of doing many times since.
In fact, I was really astonished by Clancy's failure to express any sympathy at all for the survivors who had come to me and asked these stories to be told, including one, whom we called "Angie," whose story of sexual harassment at the Smithsonian had led to the uncovering of a long tradition of abuses at Texas Tech. This pattern, of criticizing my reporting methods while ignoring the survivors who have come to me so many times asking for help, has characterized Clancy's public attacks on me for several years now. While I have never questioned the sincerity of Clancy's advocacy, I did begin to wonder if careerism and her own public image were at least a part of her motivation (the accusation, more or less, that she began to make against me publicly the following year.)
2. Remarkably, in the remainder of the New Complaint, the Review Committee--despite supposedly investigating the allegations for more than five months--never seems to have looked into the history and context of the dispute between Clancy and me. Instead, the complaint jumps forward nearly four years to 2020, ignoring Clancy's calling me a "garbage person" in 2019 (see previous post) and her talking about my "bullshit" in September 2020 after the Hilary Leathem events. The Review Committee also seems to have been unaware, or at least did not consider, the public attacks on me in November 2017 during the Holly Dunsworth episode (both the Leathem and Dunsworth events will be covered in subsequent posts in this series.)
Thus the Committee, and the NASW board in approving this complaint, failed to exercise due diligence and to make a fair inquiry, and to consider on its own--since I was not allowed to participate in the process until the Committee had actually arrived at a conclusion--that there might have been important context for what had gone on. In fact, between 2017 and 2020, I only very infrequently responded publicly to Clancy's attacks on me, even though I knew about them in most cases. Friends and colleagues sometimes asked why I did not do more to defend myself; I explained that I was following the counsel of those who argued that doing so would only attract more attention to Clancy and invite more attacks.
3. Beginning in September 2020, I did, however, begin to respond to Clancy's public attacks, sometimes by subTweeting and then by increasingly naming her publicly. And, as explained in previous blog posts, once the Original Complaint was made public, I felt I had no choice but to mount a defense. This was not just for the sake of my own reputation as a journalist, although that was very important to me, but also for the sake of the survivors who had put their trust in me and who felt they were rendered invisible when Clancy and others tried to discredit my accurate reporting about abusers.
Why does this all matter?
In future posts, I will delve more into what I see as the real issues here. It's not just some kind of personal spat between me and Clancy, nor is it really about my "mistreatment" of survivors--I have already dissected those accusations in previous posts and I will do much more along those lines very soon.
Rather, as I will try to show, #MeToo reporting in academia has generated a backlash, not just among abusers who would be expected to object to being exposed, but also among some colleagues who prefer to keep the movement on a rhetorical and advocacy footing and feel very uncomfortable about the outing of specific individuals. Why would they feel that way? Because outing abusers almost invariably upsets power structures which everyone in academia, no matter how sincerely motivated to fight abuses, has had to negotiate to get where they are. And when a reporter concentrates largely on one academic field, such as anthropology, the degree of upset can be quite dramatic, as major scientific figures with big labs and lots of grant money are exposed.
There are a lot more issues to explore, including the mob mentality that sometimes leads scientifically trained academics to believe things they are told simply based on the status and prestige of the person doing the telling, rather than seriously evaluating the truth of allegations that find their way onto social media or the whisper network. Please watch for future posts in this series for more detailed explanations of just what I mean.
Update Oct 30, 2021: At the time I wrote this, Danielle Kurin and I were in the middle of settlement negotiations and the mediator had asked both sides for a "cease-fire" while they continued. Thus in this post I did not mention one of the most important elements in the conflict with Clancy. By her own admission in a sworn declaration, she began talking with the Kurin camp in the fall of 2020 about testifying on her behalf in the lawsuit. Those discussions continued until at least December of that year, when her role on behalf of the Kurin team was exposed publicly. Even at that time, according to her own statements, she had not decided whether to participate or not, although she claimed that she was "leaning against it." For a #MeToo advocate to even consider helping someone with Kurin's track record of retaliation and abuse--retaliation against students who had filed Title IX reports!--indicates that she is not a reliable "ally" to survivors of abuse. I will have to say about the origins of my conflict with Clancy in an upcoming post.
I kind of feel sorry for the people she keeps roping into her vortex of online drama. Her job is secure, but a lot of these young ECRs are in precarious positions and being part of this does them no favors, no matter how well intentioned some of them may be.
This is not just about giving credit to where credit is due, but primarily about failing to acknowledge how different facets of the #MeToo movement can work together to fight harassment. The crime of omission is even greater considering it was this particular set of circumstances at the 2019 meeting that eventually brought to positive structural changes in SAA’s anti-harassment policies.
Without prior knowledge of why certain voices are silenced and who’s pulling the strings behind those decisions, future historians will simply have to conclude that Voss was a poor scholar who failed to do her basic research. I, for one, lost respect for her as a scholar. Since I am not into silencing voices myself, I will probably recommend these articles to my students, but also use it as fine example that context is everything and that even the seemingly best-intentioned research is not immune from petty rivalries.
Voss’s deliberately skewed telling of the Yesner incident would be considered academic misconduct if it occurred in any other context. It would have been more honest to tell readers what actually happened and then make her own judgments about which actions she considered constructive and which she did not, than to tell the story untruthfully.
However, as I have pointed out repeatedly, some archaeologists have come to believe a completely false story about my interactions with Yesner on that fateful day in April 2019.
These are just a couple, but there are many more out there advertising her survey. Another example of Clancy’s narcissism leading to collateral damage. She centers herself over the needs of survivors. Always.Too bad few realize she is the smiling fox that Malcom X warned us about.
What transpired at SAA2019 and its aftermath epitomizes the main distinction between the MeTooActivist and the MeTooAcademic.
The MeTooActivist realizes that there is a serious problem, and so they act by escorting the problem out of the building. To further support survivors and make sure the problem won’t just waltz back in next time, the MeTooActivist exposes their crimes on a public blog. The MeTooActivist also makes sure to tweet and tweet and tweet about it, so that colleagues and students will know whom to steer clear of in conferences, classrooms, and field schools.
The MeTooAcademic also realizes that there is a serious problem, and so they scowl, whisper, survey, measure, conference, and write more peer-review articles with the words “Quantitative”, “Qualitative”, and “Disciplinary Transformation” in the title. To further support survivors, the MeTooAcademic also angrily leaves the organization that the survivors, and some of their harassers, are still members of. The MeTooAcademic also makes sure to tweet about them leaving, so their colleagues will know that they are not just sitting idly by while their other colleagues continue to harass students in conferences, classrooms, and field schools.
The problem is not with the SAA as a professional organization. The problem is with those professionals within the organization who still think that the correct and only response to the MeToo problem in academia, is academic.
More broadly, some activists have made the distinction between “ally” and “accomplice,” particularly in the context of the anti-racist, anti-bigotry movements. Eg, https://nccasa.org/ally-versus-accomplice/
1. Profess your hatred of Balter but not any of the abusers he reports on. Even better, help the abusers in their lawsuits directly or by saying Balter manipulates evidence.
2. Retweet and like Clancy’s tweets and subtweets about Balter and complaining about how she should be more admired and entitled to more job talks (even though she is tenured at a prestigious R1) and PAID speaking opportunities for her Metoo work. Why isn’t anyone criticizing the tonedeafness of this? Especially since Clancy accuses Balter of profiting off the pain of survivors?
3. Falsely accuse Balter of making money off of his metoo reporting.
4. Falsely accuse Balter of something else and hope that Clancy takes notice and signal boosts you to her 22k followers. The more outrageous the accusation the higher chances of being signal boosted.
5. Profess how kind and awesome Clancy is even if you have never met her in person or seen how she treats subordinates when no one is looking.
6. Call Balter the harasser who coordinates targeted harassment at Clancy when Clancy is the one tweeting mean girl comments, filing dishonest complaints, talking to Kurin’s lawyers, and getting her tens of thousands of followers and their hundreds of thousands of followers to join in. But the 2-4 people who pipe up for Balter during one of these mobbing sessions is the mob right? Or are they sockpuppets? If sockpuppets, that is a mob of one person vs 100,000 in Clancy’s extended network.
7. Anytime Balter defends himself, just call him an abuser, bully, gaslighter, predator, misogynist, etc etc. Do not under any circumstances call out any documented abusers by name, especially if Balter had anything to do with it.
8. Pounce on Balter’s mistakes and refuse to give him credit for actually allowing some critical comments to go through and admitting some mistakes. Never admit any of your own mistakes or even entertain you might be wrong once in a while.
9. Virtue signal by writing long twitter threads, facebook comments, and anonymous blog takedowns (but we all know who you are because of your long winded writing style and because you out yourself to people like Clancy behind the scenes to get signal boosted when your desperate sockpuppet tweets fail to gain traction at first). Keep a tally of all the times Balter does not let your comments go through.
10. Talk about changing the culture while at the same time behaving in ways that signal to everyone that exposing individual abusers will land you in the same hot water as Balter.
If you have followed any of these steps, you will likely catch the eye of Clancy.
Your reward: The occasional “You are awesome!” tweet of support from Clancy and all the retweets and likes to satisfy your social media addiction. Just don’t think too hard on all the ongoing metoo cases you have undermined and sabotaged. You are a morally upright person who is ridding the world of the evil incarnate that is Balter.
Balter is imperfect but at least he is risking something to actually take concrete actions.
When the MeTooActivist takes to social media to inform and alert colleagues about what has happened and the dangers of allowing a sexual predator to remain in a meeting the predator's victims are also attending, the MeTooAcademic makes sure to accuse the activist of "centering" themselves and doing it all for personal attention and glory--thus discouraging other potential MeTooActivists from speaking out unless they have the endorsement of a leading MeTooAcademic.
Sometimes the MeTooAcademic will even publish a paper--perhaps a two-part paper--which discusses the episode in question but leaves out key details of how events unfolded, despite their obligations as an academic to describe things accurately.
I know you didn’t write the MeTooActivist/MeTooAcademic comment, because I actually know who did (and a quick phone call just confirmed it.) In fact I suspect that anyone and everyone who reads your blog, including access_matters, know that you are not commenting anonymously. What I don’t understand is why you even bother to debate it with this MeTooAcademic and professional sock-puppeteer who has zero followers? Let them waste their time obsessing, which ironically only comes at the expense of doing their academic work. At the end of the day, this will be their downfall.
Thanks for this, although now this crowd will insist again that you are actually me! :-)
You are right of course.
Please thank your colleague for contributing what I think is a very perceptive comment on what is going on here, and for coining descriptors that capture it so well. I hope others pick them up and use them in discussions about how academia can rid itself of abusers.
To the body of the blog post I should add that it was Clancy who outed Leathem on twitter BEFORE Balter published his redacted sans-nom post. This is how myself and many others had first realized who she was. That she should use her now to go after Balter is a monstrosity.
Who or what you call “Michael Balter” doesn’t really exist.
It is actually an alien conspiracy to destabilize and divide the field of archaeology from within, to prevent them from discovering that spaceship buried under the pyramids.
So yes… the blog, the comments, the tweets… all are written by the same hand…
A small, green, three fingered hand.
“So far, there’s no data linking the vaccines to changes in menstruation,” Alice Lu-Culligan and Dr Randi Hutter Epstein at Yale School of Medicine wrote in the New York Times. “Even if there is a connection, one unusual period is no cause for alarm.”
Amid the vaccine rollout, some people have reported changes to their periods and wondered if they were linked to the shot. Dr Kathryn Clancy, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, recently launched a study researching the potential symptoms after experiencing some of them last February…
Anecdotes like Clancy’s have underscored how many clinical studies do patients a disservice by failing to track menstrual irregularities as potential side-effects. But they have also provided fuel for conspiracy theorists on social media, who have spread outlandish myths about individuals experiencing period abnormalities or miscarriages simply by being in the presence of others who have been vaccinated.
I suspect the awful people who invented this lie saw the reports of menstrual irregularities post Covid-19 vaccine online and decided to warp it for their campaign of chaos,” Dr Jen Gunter, an obstetrician-gynecologist and pain medicine physician, wrote in an explanatory post.
Turns out Clancy is also a bad scholar and an even worse global citizen. And to the distinctions above, you can also add a “MeTooDoctor” vs. a “MeDicalDoctor.”
If I were the authors, I would file a complaint with the NASW for unprofessional and disrespectful behavior toward other journalists.
I noticed that since the critical comments on her survey collection methods on this blog, she had been much more tempered in her twitter responses about the survey, rather than just “affirming” people’s truth about the period irregularities and covid, as she was doing before. Hi Clancy!
They both peddle in half truths. I’ve never seen any indication that Balter thought the anonymous blog article was written by Clancy and yet they claim he does, though Clancy at first was careful to just say others did. She then quickly stopped correcting people. I am also curious about what these harassing emails that Balter has sent to Debby: https://mobile.twitter.com/debscavator/status/1353042375157800961 I’ve learned to take everything they say with a grain of salt. I have a feeling Debby has been sending Balter long winded harassing emails like how she does everywhere else, for the purpose of eliciting responses that she can then show to all her online friends and cry white woman tears. The sending emails to his lawyers to get them to drop him in the Kurin case was a new revelation. How low can someone go? Balter is not the only one on trial and at risk of losing everything. There are dozens of survivors and witnesses in this case that stand to lose so much as well. Stop interfering Debby!
(note also Wendrich and Stanish in the photos)
It’s Ilana Johnson and Castillo all over again*! Well I say fuck UCLA and its flying monkeys. If Debbie Sneed worked with or was directly associated with harassers and their enablers, and yet did absolutely NOTHING to provide evidence to the contrary or condemn their actions, then her condemnation of Balter basically lost all its credibility.
Here’s the deal, people. If you are going to attack the victims of abuse (which is exactly what you are doing by attacking the reporter we tasked with relaying our stories), then at least don’t hide behind a false sense of morality. Definitely don’t dare to silence us by claiming that the reporter made any of this up. Spare yourself the embarrassment and reveal where you’re coming from and who you’re standing behind because, as you can see, we’re going to find out anyway.
(and read the comments)
It got a lot of attention, but anyone who links to it would have to acknowledge that I wrote it. Similar with the survivors of Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, whom Debby and others covered for by centering me rather than his abuses. That's when Debby got involved in the Balter-bashing movement, which is a front for those who want to pick and choose which abusers get exposed (very few, really, since my collaborations with survivors have led to so many.)
In Debby's case, she does a guerrilla attack on me, always anonymously but leaving lots of clues that it is her; then goes running to Kate Clancy, Holly Dunsworth, and others in that particular club to collect her brownie points and sympathy for pushback from Big Bad Balter.
We saw a similar pattern with former U of Chicago anthropology grad student Hilary Leathem, who, last year, would see folks bashing me, chime in with blatant lies about her interactions with me, and collect her own brownie points. When I finally got fed up and called her out, she made sure that everyone was told I had outed her, even though I had not named her in my blog post setting the record straight (which too few people wanted to read because it interfered with the main narrative.)
Similar things happened in the case of Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, in which the colleague I have called Student L again blatantly lied about our communications (or lack thereof), thus providing Castillo apologists with a diversion from his misconduct.
I will have more to say about Clancy, Dunsworth, Leathem, the Castillo defenders, and related matters in the next installments this series of posts. But rather than rumors and innuendo, I will rely on cold hard receipts. The survivors whose stories I have told deserve no less, because it means setting the record straight about their experiences as well.
It is one thing to act like another reckless millennial and join a twitter mob just to show you too want to fight “The Man” (or a “old white man” as this mob prefers it.) It is quite another to meddle in a lawsuit because of loyalties to a person and/or organization implicated in that suit. It's starting to look like Debby Sneed belongs to the latter category, and this can have serious legal and professional ramifications.
Debby, is that you? Moral grandstanding and interfering with lawsuits, as Debby has done, is to signal to a certain crowd that has a lot of clout online and offline that they are one of them. This crowd is well connected and have prestigious positions in academia. They also like to take on social issues as kind of a moral armor so that people are afraid of criticizing them publicly. Obviously Clancy and Dunsworth may not be able to get her a job directly, but the signal boosting by Clancy and that crowd of her research and their stamp of approval is what most of these ECRs are hoping for. This is the age of the trumpian academic, where self-promotion, doing trendy topics, and media coverage trumps everything, including the truth. There is also a perverse white woman tears and using social issues as an alibi that they hope people will feel sorry for their “victimization” by evil Balter. You can be sure that any anti-Balter sentiment will be picked up by Clancy’s sharp eyes and rewarded with positive attention. BethAnn was an expert at making people feel sorry for her. It turned out she was the abuser all along. What other commenters have pointed out is an even more sinister reason why Debby may be obsessed with undermining Balter’s investigations and lawsuit: there are senior people in her close network who HATE Balter and doing this is a signal to them that she is not one of these troublemakers who will ever tell on them. This is why most senior academics have a code of silence. It’s been a long chain of promoting the obedient and complacent.
Poor Lloyd must be spinning in his grave.
On the ethics front, as researchers we must all ask ourselves, "if I conduct this study, is there a potential that the data-gathering itself or the dissemination of these data could have serious consequences for vulnerable people? If so, are those consequences potentially worse than the consequences of not studying this phenomenon?"
It seems like Clancy either didn't ask herself this or didn't care about the answer to the question. So far as I can tell, there is plenty to be lost from reporting on this research prematurely and from deriving it with a biased sampling strategy. Look at social media and see how anti-vaxxers have seized upon the results to steer people away from vaccination. On the other hand, what are the potential harms of waiting to publish the results? Especially if she had waited until the sampling can be adjusted? What is the urgent medical need to report these findings? I've yet to see that argued and cannot think of a way to balance the scales myself. All I see is populations already vulnerable to COVID-19 who are now further steered away from vaccination or who may be living in environments with lower vaccination rates due to fears stoked by the narrative of "this toxic shot even alters the course of your monthlies!"
First, it is easier to attack the substance and tone of a 280 characters’ tweet, rather than a detailed blog post that cites survivors’ stories and supporting evidence like correspondence and documents. It is the scholarly equivalent of attacking a colleague by only citing one presentation she gave 20 years ago, while ignoring the two books and 20+ peer-review articles she published since then.
Second, in the long run a comment on the blog is more publicly visible than a tweet, and many of those people do not necessarily want all their colleagues to know what they’re actually thinking and doing while they are supposed to be reviewing applications for that new position in the department.
Third and perhaps most important, Balter’s most vocal criticizers and some of the perpetrators he wrote about would hate to admit that they actually read (and comment on) his blog. Because if they do, they would signal to others that this information is worthy of consideration, and that would draw even more attention to their deeds and the impact of his work. I know for a fact that at least two prominent scholars actively discourage others, including their students, to even look at this blog.
I often have the opportunity, unfortunately, to see how known predators and abusers are reacting to criticisms of my reporting on social media and elsewhere. They rejoice every time. That tells you something, I think.
Is that you again, Debby? There are certain people who have perfected the art of misdirection and straw man argumentation. The earlier comments talk about not piping up even AFTER their abuses and lies are exposed. “Conspiracy theories” is another hot-take criticism used to delegitimize the work that is being done. Stop arguing against straw man arguments that people are imagining some kind of cloak and dagger conspiracy done in dark Zoom rooms among the anti Balter crowd. We all know how sociality works and the often subconscious influences our network has on our behavior. It’s like racists saying they don’t have a racist bone in their body. Of course Clancy and her like will never admit that what they have done and are doing amounts to a coordinated effort to destroy Balter’s credibility and kick him out of the Metoo movement. She has tweeted, egged people like Holly Dunsworth on to share her negative experiences with Balter on twitter, signal boosted every negative critique of Balter no matter the veracity, helped coordinate a complaint to get him kicked out of the NASW, considered helping Kurin, fomented the context in which the complaint was leaked to Kurin, write another complaint to get Balter kicked out of NASW because he wouldn’t shut up about what Clancy had done, and created a climate of fear in which everyone is afraid of standing up to her publicly because she does and will use her platform to punch down. She even admitted in her complaint interview she is seen as a “fixer” that people come to to censure certain people. She said maybe 10 or so people coordinate in backchannels to censure inconvenient voices. I never figured out why Clancy hated Balter in particular so much until I saw the complaint and email exchange. This is a narcissist that will forever hold a grudge after any negative feedback. I don’t think Balter was right to lose his temper, but what Clancy has done after the fact is incredibly vindictive and has caused a lot of collateral damage. Because of her high prestige, people are blind to the fact that she ropes them into really awful flame wars that have high collateral damage. I am thinking of Holly Dunsworth in particular. I do think she had a legitimate grievance stemming from an honest misunderstanding that was mostly Balter’s fault. I looked on twitter to see that they made an uneasy peace, but peace nevertheless. Then I see Clancy stirring shit up again and egging her on to share more in the Leathem event last September. What a user and opportunist! Anyone interested in this saga can just look on twitter with the handles @mbalter @hollydunsworth. I would not consider Clancy a friend. People tolerate super shitty behavior from prestigious people. It’s easy to scapegoat Balter who has no future in anthropology academia rather than point the blame on someone on the up and up like Clancy.
What happened between me and Holly Dunsworth was complicated at the time, and in a future post I will produce evidence that both of us realized it at the time. But the waters were completely muddied when Kate Clancy jumped into the situation because it provided an opportunity for her to try to discredit me; in doing so she gaslighted everyone in biological anthropology, including Holly herself. By the time Holly was interviewed for the NASW complaint, she was putting out a narrative that is very distorted, as I will also show.
In none of this, as others have pointed out, have Clancy and her posse expressed ANY--ANY--sympathy or support for the dozens of survivors who asked me to help them. To do so would give credibility to my reporting; but by not doing so, they discredit the survivors as well.
To Anonymous who posted on April 26, 2021 at 3:41 PM:
“Random associations”? I think not. Here are the facts. The majority of the IFR founding members were UCLA graduates and faculty and/or operated field schools through the Cotsen Institute, so these were never “structurally separate.” These were not even “legally separate” in a sense, because of a 2009-2011 sexual harassment lawsuit that involved UCLA and then IFR Executive Director and board members. The current Director of the Cotsen Institute is also the Co-Chair and Governors & Academic Board member of the IFR, and the former Cotsen Director was an IFR Board member. Both are or were IFR field school directors, and some of their graduate students were directly involved in IFR field schools as instructors & co-directors. Some may have been paid to cover their expenses, but surely many funded their dissertation projects directly from these field school fees. Once graduating, these and others then went on to direct IFR field schools of their own (to this day.) UCLA graduate students were also appointed as IFR staff members, with the goal of recruiting more UCLA students (among others) into IFR field schools.
The point is that there is absolutely nothing “random” or “conspiracy” about any of this. IFR was never, and will never be a “private company contracted by UCLA to provide services,” and it is naïve and even dangerous to think so. The revelations about IFR and the people who operate(d) it are not new to many UCLA faculty, they were only now being made public. If you are around campus, I suggest that you ask around and find out more.
Mind you that even though many may believe that certain UCLA—IFR affiliated faculty are implicated in sexual harassment and assault cases in archaeological field schools, I would disagree with anyone who says that this also applies to their students, past, present and future.
As I have noted in prior comments on this blog, most grad students in archaeology at UCLA could not avoid volunteering for IFR. If you were meant to work on your graduate advisor's site and/or lacked funding for your doctoral project's field research activities, you by default collaborated with an IFR field school to gather data required for your dissertation. In exchange, you provided for the program instructional and technical assistance. Indeed, my dissertation dataset could not have existed without the financial support of IFR and the labor of my undergraduate students in the IFR field schools. Such novel datasets are, or were at the time, required for the PhD in Anthropology.
As I’ve also previously noted here, many faculty and graduate students were unaware of Ran Boytner's problematic history and IFR's problematic internal machinations. Boytner and Chip Stanish shared with the community a narrative that feasibly explained Boytner’s departure in better light. I, once again, heartily emphasize that it is unfair and potentially harmful to draw random associations to people based on participation in IFR or UCLA Cotsen activities, or affiliation with certain UCLA faculty.
It is fair to say there was a variety of problematic faculty behavior in archaeology and anthropology at UCLA during my time, and most, if not all, of us had no idea what we were getting into when we matriculated - or even much awareness of many issues when we “Phinished” six to eight years later. Yes, I was aware early in my graduate tenure at UCLA that Boytner had at times exhibited jerkish, unprofessional conduct. For context, so did many faculty in anthropology and archaeology: I witnessed routine faculty targeting of peers and students with gossiping, back-stabbing, libel-ing, bullying, and name-calling – including use of ethnic and gender slurs. On more than a few occasions I heard from a faculty member’s office a screaming fight, witnessed in the hallway a screaming brawl, and such.
The California archaeologist Debby Sneed is an adult and can think for herself, but it is clear to me that her academic advisors may not have modeled for her the traits of professionalism.
This reminds me of the article about academia being a cult. Very North Korea like. It’s become a mark of pride for people to announce that they stopped reading or have never read this blog. Again, signaling to the right people. Another reason is that the abusers and the complicit simply don’t want people to read opinions and facts that run counter to the public party line. The reasons that some of them give feign concern for metoo issues, like saying that reading this blog will make you complicit in attacking and defaming women, especially ECR women. Or that it is like rape because you are reading private details about someone. Reminds me of the three witches of Macbeth’s chant that fair is foul and foul is fair.
What I am not clear about is Lana Martin’s comments that she “was not subject to Title IX or other trainings typically mandated by a university” and “most faculty offered field schools exclusively through IFR, yet UCLA had no oversight of IFR”
Were these seen as benefits of the arrangement, or shortcomings? If I understand correctly, wasn’t this lack of oversight and mandatory training the reasons why Kurin could get away with running a field school with the IFR, and eventually why more students were harmed?
The description of the IFR origins and entrenchment within the CIoA is spot on, regardless of what graduate students knew or not. It’s really the same people and same model as the defunct UCLA Archaeology Field Program, only gone rogue (aka “non-profit organization”.) In many ways, IFR was designed as the not-so-secret guerilla arm of field education where faculty can run wild and free. Your university asks you to jump through pesky bureaucratic hoops? We, your colleagues, will quickly “peer-review” [not what this term really means] and then approve your money-making program. Your university asks you to go through background check before instructing students? We know you, so no bother. You’ve now harassed students and your university makes you endure an annoying Title IX investigation? We only self-investigate, and if found guilty will never tell anyone what you did. Oh, and the university cancelled your summer school because of a raging pandemic? No worries, we will run it anyway! Etc etc etc etc…
I think what Brookshire was referring to here was the google drive with all the supporting interviews and documents. It was accessible for several days after the Kurin-affiliated sockpuppet started to disseminate the complaint online (the link to the drive was in the complaint). So I don’t think it was Brookshire that gave anyone a password for any locked pdf. My own theory, speculation of course, is that the person who leaked the complaint is the person who is directly working with Kurin’s team and being represented by them, Akshay Sarathi. He was also one of the four people who made up the backbone of the complaint, so he would have had access to it. Why would Akshay do this? My theory is that he is very desperate to keep Balter from revealing their communications, which, according to Balter on twitter, shows duplicity and a willingness to lie about departmental colleagues and hope that Balter would report on less than truthful allegations. To prevent this from happening, it makes sense for him to be very receptive in helping Kurin in exchange for legal protection as a witness. Kurin’s legal team may have made a promise that Balter may not be able to publicize the communications because that would constitute “witness intimidation.”
It would explain Akshay’s head scratching behavior in lying in legal proceedings to help a known and documented abuser.
It doesn’t make sense to me that Clancy would willingly leak these documents to Kurin’s team because of the high risk for low reward.
This is all speculation at this point, however, but I hope Balter can look into it.
Most regrettably, it’s not just independent journalists. This is what happens to academics who attempt to help their students by turning into Twitter MeTooActivists:
“Pollack-Pelzner, who has been a sharp critic of Linfield’s responses to sexual harassment and who has raised serious charges of anti-Semitism, has been fired for being “insubordinate… Pollack-Pelzner is known as being “a public advocate for students and faculty who had complained about alleged sexual abuse by board trustees.”… The university’s charge that Pollack-Pelzner was “insubordinate” is particularly vague and unconvincing, and the fact that he has supposedly “interfered with the university’s administration of its responsibilities” is a blatant act of shooting the messenger. ”
There is an open letter with a signature petition here:
Go have a wank instead of all of this "anonymous" self posting sockpuppetry.
You are embarrassing yourself.
And I know you wont' publish this so I'm screenshotting it to embarrass you later.
Very embarrassing indeed.
I am following the different cases on this blog since 2019, chiefly for my personal research purpose. Where I feel I have something productive to contribute to a particular discussion, I will occasionally comment anonymously.
What I noticed is that the above type of comments trying to persuade us that the other anonymous comments amount to nothing more than false support and disinformation because they were actually written by Balter, only pop up on those blog posts that have something to do with Danielle Kurin and those who are directly or indirectly involved in her lawsuit (in this case, Clancy).
As an illustration to my point, take the blog posts on Peter Rathjen (or for that matter, any of the other Aussie rogues):
As far as I can tell that last one is the longest thread on Balter’s Blog, with 518 comments strong. Naturally there is the odd critical voice is an otherwise overwhelming support, but none of these commenters are actually trying to argue that the other anonymous comments were deceivingly written by Balter.
This reveals the manipulative agenda of those commenters like the one from May 9th, and what they are really trying to achieve here. If this is not Kurin herself, it is surely someone who has strong interest in her winning the lawsuit.
With responses like these to a perfectly reasonable and polite comment, no wonder her students think she is rude, narcissistic, snooty, and condescending! Clancy is using the good ol’ appeal to authority logical fallacy to shut down discussion.
I initially raised concerns that dealing with the way this investigation could play into the hands of anti-vaxxers seemed to be merely an after-thought for Clancy, and since then it seems that the considerable publicity she has received for her work on this has trumped over considerations. Also, I have yet to see any indications of how she and her coworker(s) plan to turn what is now basically an anecdotal, self-selected cohort into a real study of possible associations between receiving the vaccine and menstrual side effects. Such a study would be difficult, although not impossible, to perform, but it would have to involve a cohort entirely separate from the once Clancy as assembled. In some ways she has already poisoned the well of research into this topic by the way she has gone about it.
Angie Rasmussen often gets stuff wrong: https://mobile.twitter.com/angie_rasmussen/status/1151968075199086593
In the second tweet, she joined in on the dishonest mobbing and falsely accused someone of being a balter sockpuppet. It’s clear that spectre is probably an Australian given what the account retweets (Adelaide related cases) and the spelling of “spectre.” I notice that the old Metoostem crew only started caling Balter a sockpuppet after their former bestie got exposed. They rule twitter like a bunch of mean girls, a trait BethAnn was expert at.
It’s just sad that people think credentials, follower numbers, and a blue checkmark on twitter gives them a right to bully others and shut down discussion. Clancy admitted she had been chasing that blue checkmark, unsuccessfully: https://twitter.com/KateClancy/status/1401874057298157571 She knows that credibility comes in these packages. People will usually side with those with more institutional credibility instead of examining the evidence for themselves.
As for the lab leak hypothesis, the problem is that people on both sides made it a proxy issue for partisan politics and social issues. They do it to gain blind loyalty from their own group by playing to shared biased narratives. Rasmussen, Clancy, and McLaughlin all engage in this tactic, and it always leads to more harm than good. They aren’t so different from the CCP, with their CYA mentality and aversion to transparency and being questioned.
People should really steer clear of the old Metoostem clique (Clancy, Rasmussen, Miller, Swanson, Marts, Barolo, etc). Angie has expressed some remorse for being complicit in BethAnn’s bullying and yet she behaves just like her (sans sockpuppeting, as far as I know). https://mobile.twitter.com/angie_rasmussen/status/1335247525230510080 Can’t say the same for Clancy, who pretended to have never enabled BethAnn. Following in the footsteps of BethAnn, Clancy also successfully interfered with balter’s reporting and metoo activities.
As for Clancy, I wouldn't say that Clancy has successfully interfered with my #MeToo reporting, although she has certainly tried. The good news is that work has continued despite her nearly four year campaign to discredit me and my reporting. Her discussions with the Kurin team about possibly testifying on her behalf (which she admits to herself) have also discredited her in the eyes of many, except for her cult followers who care nothing about facts.
Teigen’s past cyberbullying reminds me of the tone that a lot of the twitter bullies take in hopes of getting attention through “edgy” and caustic rhethoric. I hope they realize that behind the man they hate with a burning passion are dozens of survivors and victims being retraumatized by their moral grandstanding and bad faith arguments: https://mobile.twitter.com/ravenscimaven/status/1404062184548843529
We desperately want support from the academic community, and after finding none, go to Balter as a last resort. Then we get shat upon for doing so and condescended to with numerous “Go to any other journalist except this pseudo creep! I can point you to better ones!” Then instead of supporting us, you side with the abusers and/or sabotage our cases. We are invisible even though these are our stories and largely our words. Instead you only see Balter and pick fights with him constantly, diverting attention away from these awful abusers. You show little respect for honesty when you uncritically repeat and double down on any old lie. We are truly sick of it, and this kind of behavior has multiplied our original traumas. We see little empathy and kindness from you, only posturing and grandstanding.