• Connie St Louis: Delusional or Dishonest?

    conniestlouis2Well, the dust has settled, and the internet’s fickle attention has shifted away from June’s flavour-of-the-month hot news item: the shaming of Nobel-laureate scientist Sir Tim Hunt.  But along the way, an actual audio clip surfaced of the tail end of Hunt’s infamous toast in Seoul—an audio clip that made it clear he was telling the truth all along about speaking in jest and in warm support of women in science, that most of his audience took his remarks in exactly that spirit, and that his chief accuser, Connie St Louis, told some porkies on tv about a certain “deathly silence.”

    The situation now?  Sir Tim, despite having been abundantly exonerated, is still in the doghouse.  UCL declined to reinstate him in his honorary position, in as mealy-mouthed a press release as I have ever seen.  His invitation to a conference in Italy was withdrawn, for fear of feminist activists disrupting the proceedings.  And no apology or even acknowledgement of the facts was forthcoming from any of the bloggers, journalists, or twitterheads who unfairly maligned him, particularly including Connie St Louis.

    Mind you, St Louis was dealing with problems of her own, in the wake of a thoroughly damning deconstruction of her online  curriculum vitae.  Borderline dishonest on the one hand, poorly written and abysmally edited on the other—the sort of incompetence that is appalling in a professional writer who is supposed to be teaching younger people how to write.  Her institution stood by her stoutly, and declared that they would help her bring her CV up to date—a process which apparently required a full calendar month. (One wonders whether they hoped her critics would forget all about it if they waited long enough.)

    So the new sanitized version went up a few days ago, with some interesting additions, and some fascinating omissions.  There are a few items one could get petty about—she claims a book under her publications, without making clear that the “book” in question is a 77-page pdf of conference papers published online, which she edited but did not write.  She does specify where she received her degree, though not the year—almost as if she wants to downplay the fact that the institution was a polytechnic at the time.  She claims to have won an award for a certain radio program, though she is not named as the recipient—but fair enough, she did present the show, and the show did win an award.  I would imagine that Ms St Louis’ little helpers made sure everything appearing in the shiny new CV had at least some basis in fact.

    No, it is the omissions that are more interesting.  No mention this time of doing piles of writing for various national papers.  No self-description as a scientist. No mention of membership in the Royal Institution. No mention of the fifty thousand quid awarded to her ten years ago, to do some writing that never got done.  No taking credit for the Foundling Museum’s  350,000-pound grant.  But most glaring of all…

    …no mention of the Tim Hunt controversy.  Her BBC interview does not appear on the (very short) list of her media appearances.  Her Guardian article on the subject does not appear on the (very short) list of her press/online articles.  Could this be because nearly every word she uttered in the BBC interview, and nearly every word she wrote in the Guardian article, were later shown to be egregiously inaccurate, biased, and on the edge of libellous?  Indeed, that level of sheer wrongness suggests that she was either (a) lying, or (b) blinded and deafened to the point of delusion by her ideological SJW agenda.  Neither interpretation reflects well on St Louis’ competence or integrity as a journalist—and it does make one a little anxious about what she is teaching her hapless students.



    h/t to Nick for date correction

    Category: FeaturedSecularism

    Article by: Rebecca Bradley


    1. The conference in Seoul was on June 8, I think, so May/June should read June/July. Cue outrage over fact checking. 😉

      One of the many fallback positions being adopted by the anti-Hunt people in their attempts to avoid having to admit that they might have made a mistake, is that maybe he did intend to make a self-deprecating joke, but he should have realised that this would inevitably have been misunderstood by his audience, who as constant victims of unmitigated sexism every time any male scientist opens his mouth in their presence would naturally assume that anything he might say would be part of their ongoing oppression; this effect was further likely to be magnified by the cultural differences. The fact that the only people who complained were native speakers of English, including a fellow Brit, is just a minor logical inconvenience for this totally unfalsifiable line of argument.

      A common rhetorical ploy of sexists is to suggest that people who are against sexism are making a lot of fuss about nothing. It doesn’t help the progressive cause when we provide such people with perfect ammunition like this.

      1. Heh, you’re right about the date, Nick. Boy, is my face red. 🙂 Thanks, I’ll make a correction.

        Yes, I’ve seen that argument made, about the potential cultural misunderstanding, and I think it’s pretty patronizing about non-native speakers
        of English. I’ve also seen the argument that trashing Tim Hunt for his remarks was GOOD, even it was unjust, because the flap raised consciousness about sexism in the science world – which reminded me of the SJW trope that false rape accusations can be GOOD, because they force the accused to examine their own rape-culture attitudes, or some such nonsense…

        1. The argument that it doesn’t really matter if a few innocent people get hurt on the way to building a better world is pure Stalinism, as is the (usually concomitant) suggestion that they probably weren’t all that innocent because they weren’t Party members. And anyone who questions, even on the most formal logical or procedural grounds, the actions taken by the designated authorities of the people, is clearly a sympathizer with the forces of reactionism. It’s non sequiturs all the way down.

    2. City University should be investigated by Trading Standards: surely offering a false prospectus is a violation of the law?

      1. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Also unimpressive was the quality of her writing and editing. And I think Sir Tim Hunt would have a good case for suing for libel. 🙁

    3. I really wish we had a complete recording. It is endlessly frustrating to try to filter what was said through just a handful of contradictory firsthand accounts. Way too much like doing Bible scholarship.

    4. The final two paras of St Louis’ semi-literate Guardian whine are keepers:

      “But before Hunt ends up getting the final word. Please Nobel eight, Richard Dawkins, Brian Cox and even Boris Johnson, stop distracting us away from the real issue. Please put your energy and your status into action. It’s about sexism in science. Royal Society take heed. Now is the time for radical change and action. Women have had enough!

      This article was amended on 23 June 2015 for reasons of style and grammar. An unedited version was originally launched in error.”

      Anyone cached the uncorrected version? It must have been laugh-a-minute bad.

    5. I am so pleased I found my way belatedly to this post. I was one of the few people who were actually able to read the original version of the St Louis article that was ‘originally launched in error’. It was jaw-droppingly awful, and certainly the worst-written piece I have ever read in the Guardian – which is really saying something. I thought the original had been lost forever, so thank you for providing a link.

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