Final Update: From Scientific American:

Bora Zivkovic resigns from Scientific American


October 18, 2013

Bora Zivkovic resigns from Scientific American

Following recent events, Bora Zivkovic has offered his resignation from Scientific American, and Scientific American has decided to accept that resignation.

The Scientific American Blog Network is a vibrant group of voices who challenge, educate and widen the discussion about science and science communication, and Bora played an important part in that. The bloggers who write on the Scientific American Blog Network are important to us, as is the science online community. We will be in regular contact with members of the Scientific American Blog Network over the coming days. Learning from recent events, we are also looking at how we support our bloggers in future.

Scientific American has an anti-harassment policy. We offer live and online anti-harassment training to those who manage employees. We’ve recently begun providing such training to individuals who work with freelancers and contractors as well. We take allegations, such as those that have appeared online this week, very seriously. When Monica Byrne contacted Scientific American a year ago, we investigated her report, offered the Company’s apologies and Ms. Byrne acknowledged in her blog that she was satisfied with our response. We were unaware of any additional allegations until this week. Our investigation of those is continuing and we will investigate any additional allegations that are reported to us. For employees, our employee handbooks and policies provide detailed information about how incidents should be reported. Our corporate Code of Conduct is publicly accessible online here: It includes contacts for reporting inappropriate behavior.


Grace Baynes
Head of Corporate Communications, Nature Publishing Group
Tel: +44 (20) 7014 4063

A hero of the online science community, a man widely regarded as a friend and a good colleague, Bora Zivkovic, behaved inappropriately towards a woman in a professional context. This community was already examining sexism and sex bias in its ranks so this new revelation adds fuel to that ongoing conversation, but it does something else as well. The online science community is struggling with what to do when a man known for his good will and in particular his promotion of women and minorities is found to be part of the problem. The online social-networked community is at present acting in an uncharacteristic way, which is probably a good thing because it is being surprisingly thoughtful, and perhaps a bad thing because this could be moderation born of fictive nepotism.

UPDATE: Bora Zivkovic has resigned from his position on the board of Science Online.

Bora Zivkovic has voluntarily resigned from the ScienceOnline Board of Directors. The Board is reviewing Bora’s future role in the organization.


UPDATE (18 Oct 11:00 AM ct):

Go read, without delay, Two stories: One man got away with it — will the other, too? by Kathleen Raven.

Also, NASW board comments on recent events, a post from the National Association of Science Writers.

Then, below, note that I’ve made use of the HTML ‘del’ tag to remove text and italics to indicate newly added text, throughout.

You probably already know the story, and if you don’t, you can catch up by reading the following two blog posts and the post by Kathleen Raven linked to above:

This Happened by Monica Byrne
This Happened by Bora Zivkovic

I won’t recount the story in detail but I will make a few brief comments. First and foremost, it is bad that this happened to Monica and others, and it is important to read her their posts and take it them seriously; she they expresses what was bad about this incident to her them, which is the bad that counts because this may be different from person to person. It These things should not have happened, clearly.

Depending on what one reads into the storys, one could say that Bora did two different things here. It seems like this was something of a come-one, and it seems like this was an awkward spilling of the guts about personal matters. (Though these two things were rather intertwined.) You can do both of those things if you want. You can come on to someone, and you can spill your guts to someone. But, it is a very bad idea to do either one of these things in a the context of a professional meeting, especially if you are the one in the position of relative authority or privilege, as was the case here. Also, it is a very bad idea to do either one the first time you meet someone, with someone you don’t really know, regardless of the circumstances. The context is key here. To those who know him it is not terribly surprising that Bora was exuberant and even personal (well, surprising that it was this personal), but there was a clear power imbalance, and this was a professional setting. I will never look at the hashtag #Ihuggedbora again without feeling a twinge of pain and a glimmer of irony.

Bora was already, before this event, my friend and my colleague, and somebody I liked. I therefore have a bias in his favor, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. The internet is starting, slowly, to fill with blog posts by both women and men (that’s an important fact) who “did not want to write this post” The bias I and others feel is based on earned respect for real things, and I’m not likely to cast it off very easily. More importantly, there is another aspect of this story, in that I have a particular view of judgement that I find too rare, in my opinion, elsewhere on the internet. Let me put it this way. I have three kinds of friends: the kind that have carried out an indiscretion, or worse, that has become public, the kind that have carried out an indiscretion, or worse, of which I am aware but that has not become public (you know who you are!), and the kind that have carried out an indiscretion, or worse, of which I am not aware and that also has not become public. There is a theoretical fourth category, the category of friend that has never carried out an indiscretion, or worse. I assume that is a null set. Behavior that is bad comes in varying degrees of badness, and are sometimes only indiscretions (or worse) in particular people’s eyes, but friendship is neither cheap nor fragile. So, my relationship with Bora does not change at all, but my personal and professional efforts to partake in the redress of uneven and poor treatment of women (and others) in society in general (I am a teacher so I get to do that) and in the communities of which I’m a member, an activity in which I’ve been very much engaged, will yet increase. But I don’t have to throw Bora under the bus to do that, nor do I have to wag my judgmental finger at him because he’ll get plenty of that (but see below). Nor, of course, do I have to excuse him or apologize on his behalf. He’s a big boy, a thoughtful man, and I think he is going to be a better person, in the end, for all this.

Collectively, this is all very messed up.

Oh, and that pattern of friendship, of knowing only people with indiscretions? That’s not just me. That’s you too.

But we’re no longer talking about indiscretions.

Monica Bryne’s blog post is written by a credible person (and very well written, I might add) and the story itself holds together and is plausible. Given only what she has said, one would best accept it as what happened, with the obvious caveat that everyone’s version of an event may be somewhat different. This is reminiscent of other recent somewhat similar blog posts about other incidents involving men behaving poorly (N.B.: generally to a vastly greater degree than Bora). In the comments section, there are additional claims that range from those that note that a similar situation (involving Bora) may have happened around the same time with another person to those that consist of nothing other than cryptic anonymous “me too, he did it to me too” remarks. While the former may be valid comments, the latter smell rather fishy to me. I am happy that Bora made a straight forward validation of Monica’s post. Also, apparently Scientific American acted appropriately, according to both Monica and Bora.

But, unfortunately, it does not appear to end there. (See link above in the third update.)

Things like this, broadly speaking, happen to a lot of women a lot of times. And by “a lot” I mean for some women depending on the circumstances of their lives almost as frequently as they encounter men. That women have to deal with a wide range of inappropriate male behavior is something too many men are not aware of, or refuse to accept as reality. If you think that is not true, than you are wrong. Last year a friend of mine mentioned the fact that she received unwanted sexual advances from men every single time she took the bus to or from work, which she did daily. I related this at a later time in a conversation with some men, each one of whom claimed some degree of association with the fight against sexism or a link to feminism, and the reaction was general incredulity. Since this is something men don’t personally experience, men are privileged to imagine the rate at which these things happen to women. We all have personal mechanisms of denial and these are often supported by cultural mechanisms of denial, and I’m pretty sure most men in our Western culture are in denial of the rate of sexual harassment that happens and that is directed almost entirely at women. Just as importantly, men can learn the appropriate boundaries and modify their behaviors, we hope. But first it is essential to get past the denial that there is a perpetual ubiquitous real problem.

Recently, in the blogosphere, it has become a thing for women to relate their own personal stories of situations ranging from uncomfortable to mortifying to horrendous in order to make this more widely known, and with this growing body of knowledge perhaps those who are incredulous will better understand. This is what Monica Byrne has and others have done, and everyone should thank her them and fully support them for that and appreciate the meaning and significance of her their efforts.

So the above is the good and the bad parts. But mostly bad. The things that happened, atonement, friendship, frailty, wrongness, rightness, irony. The ugly part I wanted to mention is something I’ve seen many times on the internet, and have written about before. This is the mob mentality We The Internet have as a deeply ingrained feature of our collective temperament. I think you know what I’m talking about in general, but more specifically, I want to examine (informally) variation in this feature of our culture. The main feature of variation in the reaction of the mob is, I’m afraid, that there isn’t much.

Everybody and everything is Hitler.

The situation of which we speak here, the thing that happened, overlaps in time (and is causally linked, in that Monica chose to name Bora because of it) with the horrid treatment of DN Lee by some dweeb at Biology-Online, and the subsequent taking down of her post by Scientific American. Those were two bad things that were bad for different reasons, though Scientific American maintains that they were right in removing DN Lee’s post (I’ll not comment here on their argument for taking the post down, but clearly it was not without negative consequences). Perhaps the Biology-Online editor was the bigger jerk because he said something really awful. Perhaps Scientific American was the bigger jerk because they didn’t trust and immediately back up DN Lee. But either way, the outrage expressed on the dual Twitter feeds that arose to address this event were on balance mostly about how long it was taking Scientific American to say anything. Scientific American was Hitler because it did not react in Twitter Time.

What I find interesting now is the initial low level of reaction to Bora’s fateful conversation with Monica. The Twittersphere has not, as of this writing, even assigned a hashtag to it. The very same community that is capable of an epic eruption of criticism and that often fails to focus on the main issue at hand seemingly due to mob mentality has chosen to not collectively throw Bora under the bus. Why?

Bora is a widely respected person in the science blogosphere, and he is recognized as having contributed to this community in a number of tangible ways. He helped make what it was before Pepsigate, and he seems to have been the major mover and shaker in creating Scientific American Blogs. He has contributed numerous philosophical tomes (really long blog posts) about blogging, social networking etc. And, perhaps most importantly, he co-created Science Online, which is a much needed and enormously successful project (now with spinoffs) that has probably had the biggest impact on science blogging among all of these contributions.

bla bla bla

So we are seeing an interesting range of reactions on Twitter. For example:

See? People are talking about it. They have different opinions, they are being somewhat thoughtful (for Twitter), they are conversing, in a way. What if it had been a different person that Bora? Someone the community was pre-disposed to dislike, or an outsider? What would the conversation be like then?

Priya Shetty notes that “What is crushingly disappointing is how unfazed the science community seem to be by Byrne’s revelation” in reference to the apparent lack of response. I’m not sure we should be crushed, though, by a response to an important event taking a day or two or even a week to emerge. In all due respect to Priya, I am certain that the online science community is not even remotely unfazed, but rather, it is excessively fazed. Judgement of appropriateness of reaction should not be based on rate of eruption of the Twittersphere. This is a point that has been hard to impress until now. At present, I think the point is indubitable.

And, as it turns out, I was right. This drama is still unfolding, but there is no way the initial reaction could have been formed into the shape it ultimately would need to take (and this is still an ongoing process). What seems to be happening is that hopes that a significant thing, with a small number (maybe two?) victims who experienced truly disturbing and negative events, was at least somewhat limited in extent is turning into something larger, broader, worse, more troubling, more insidious.

Or, maybe everyone is afraid of Bora because he is big and powerful. Is it the case that the old boy network, which in this case includes a rich mix of both men and women, is acting like molasses when it should be on fire? Or is it the case that the usual eruption really is often over the top, and many have realized that they need to think this through more carefully? In other words, are we seeing a calibration in Twitterspace of the nature of judgement? Either way, there is a deep irony here. The very same community that wanted heads to roll at Scientific American because a thing that happened late Friday before a holiday weekend was not addressed fully by Saturday evening is sitting on its hands ON A TUESDAY!!!1!!

The above paragraph still makes a valid point, but it seems irrelevant and weak now.

I would argue that the denizens of the science blogging community have decided to moderate their reactions. Perhaps they (well, ok, we) have decided to be thoughtful because of some sort of comradeship or friendship, or even just from a sense of professionalism. (Though not all, of course.) Culture, it seems, can sometimes override raw reactionary skepticism. Rarely, but it happens.

And then the other shoe dropped and we are left wondering, legitimately, how many shoes there are.

Let this be a lesson to us all. I’m not yet positive what the lesson is. If you know, please tell me.

The most important thing to do now is to support in whatever way possible the women who have come forward, assure others that they would also be supported, and to pressure Scientific American into doing the right thing, though in detail I don’t know what that is not being privy to the details of the current layout and arrangements there.

I would also add this: There have been discussions about the degree to which women who have been brought into the Scientific American Blogs network should feel that they are there as part of Bora’s stable of lady friends as opposed to being there because of their talents and the contributions they can make. It is simply not true that any of these writers and bloggers and scientists lack talent or should not have the positions they have. It is impossible for them to not wonder about this, but it is possible for others to honestly tell them how they are thought of.

With this latest information, also, we see for the first time talk of the most extreme possible outcome, the taking of a life. This is not necessary, Bora, if you are reading this. It is important and appropriate that Scientific American (and other entities) act in a professional and appropriate manner, and we hope they will. I don’t know what that outcome will or even should be, in any detail. But in this case an act of violence against oneself is an act of retribution against others, who should be regarded as innocent victims. So Bora, you must do whatever it takes to remove that option from the table.

NB: I did something I usually don’t do with this post; I asked a handful of trusted friends to look over an early draft and comment. I just wanted to thank those anonymous individuals for their efforts. Also, any errors or poorly thought out statements in this blog post are entirely their fault. (Only kidding.)


  1. #1 throwaway
    October 16, 2013

    This is a really thoughtful insightful post. THIS is what blogging should be. Congratulations – exploring nuanced shades of grey is not easy.

  2. #2 Avery Fitch
    October 16, 2013

    It remains to be seen how much stopping and thinking about it is due to consideration and how much is due to the fact that Bora has power over people’s careers.

  3. #3 Avery Fitch
    October 16, 2013

    (I think my comment didn’t work, apology if this is a repost, but…)

    I think it remains to be seen if the limited reaction is slowness due to consideration of the issues or slowness because Bora has power over writers or potential writers (or conference goers).

  4. #4 Erratic
    United States
    October 16, 2013

    1. Is this a pattern of behavior or truly a one-off case of poor judgement brought on by personal distress, for which he (belatedly) apologized? If others come forward with similar stories it might be harder to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    2. Reading about the conversation made me feel icky, but did not rise to the level of the obnoxious comment by the Biology-Online guy OR the stupid action by Sci Am. Maybe the lack of indignation is simply a reflection of the reality that men using their status to try to get sex is not news, while overreaction by a major publication says something slightly more important about society.

  5. #5 Kathryn Jepsen
    October 16, 2013

    “So, my relationship with Bora does not change at all, but my personal and professional efforts to partake in the redress of uneven and poor treatment of women (and others) in society in general (I am a teacher so I get to do that) and in the communities of which I’m a member, an activity in which I’ve been very much engaged, will yet increase. But I don’t have to throw Bora under the bus to do that, nor do I have to wag my judgmental finger at him because he’ll get plenty of that.”

    It’s very difficult to report harassment from someone that other people think is a “good guy” or who has done good things for other people. And this type of reaction is exactly why.

    Fighting injustice is supposed to be work. Writing / talking / teaching generally about the wrongness of sexism is a place to start, but that’s not where the real effort comes in. The real work is confronting it when it’s in front of you, when it involves you or people whose lives touch yours.

    Here is your chance. Here is a person you know, from whom you can demand more. And yet, many people are taking this time to point out how great Bora is overall, as if one should be able to earn enough brownie points to get a free pass to treat someone (or multiple someones) badly, or as if it is impossible to condemn a single action by a person without condemning everything they’ve ever done.

    Imagine for a moment how that makes someone he’s mistreated feel. Imagine how that makes people who are considering reporting something similar feel.

    A woman went to Bora expecting to be taken seriously and treated like a professional, like everyone else. And instead she got an unpleasant message that she is not thought of that way.

    If we’re willing to hold unknowns like Ofek accountable for sexist behavior, we need to hold knowns like Bora accountable, too.

  6. #6 Kara
    October 16, 2013

    This is not at the same level but worth noting:

  7. #7 Kimberly
    October 16, 2013

    I don’t see how Bora Zivkovic can remain as a credible community manager at a major blog network if his reputation for supporting up and coming young women merges, as it is, with a reputation for harassment, even if the harassment runs from mild overpressing of his “exuberance” to something worse, given that it is not looking like a single incident.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    October 16, 2013

    Kathryn: Good points. It is what I’ve been struggling with since yesterday when I got a DM pointing to the initial posts.

    Before any of this happened, I already felt that the internet communities of which I’m aware shifts from not knowing about something to pulling out the torches and pitchforks and demanding that heads roll to the same high level no matter what is in front of them, and I don’t think that this is OK. One of the points I make in this post that the reaction on Twitter to DN Lee’s situation (and related events) ended up focusing on the speed at which a major corporation responded, over a holiday weekend, to a greater extent than the bad behavior of Ofek and the take down itself. This is evidence to me that the community response to something that it should respond to is, despite the widespread thinking that somehow crowdsourcing comes to better truths when left on its own, is capable of being misdirected or in some cases just plain wrong. This is a think, I think, worth thinking and writing about.

    But you are absolutely correct, I think, that anything that is supportive of Bora may have the effect of turning into effective lack of support to someone in Monica Byrne’s situation. That is not my intent, but it may be the effect.

    So if I don’t want to go after every bad thing with a hangman’s noose in one hand and a pitchfork in the other, but also want to give support … in specific instances as you point out … how do I do that?

    I do, by the way, encounter specific cases of sexism and racism frequently and I do address them directly and specifically all the time. It is not the case that I’m just taking a general approach. But even the general approach is valid and useful. For instance, since I teach about human evolution, biology, culture, and prehistory, I have a huge opportunity to incorporate as key themes sexism, sex bias, misogyny, etc in my classes. It is not insignificant that at the end of the term my students know as much about the historical and cultural evolution of the patriarchy and of racism as they do about the history of writing and details of fossil hominids.

    But your point is valid and I tried to write this post in a way that didn’t have that negative effect. I do not claim to have been successful in that, but I tried and I appreciate you pointing out the conundrum.

  9. #9 belleWeather
    October 16, 2013

    One tweeter has already turned “asked me if I would walk him back to his hotel” (which is a little strange) to ” how do we justify a request to go to his hotel room?” (note the addition of “room”)

    Not really fair.

  10. #10 Grant
    October 16, 2013

    Somebody needs to put together a time lie of events as they become known to see if this is a long term uniform pattern of behavior or if they fall into a tighter time period, because I think that might matter.

  11. #11 Kathryn Jepsen
    October 16, 2013

    Thanks for the reply.

    Characterizing people’s very just anger about sexism as “pulling out the torches and pitchforks” is not helpful, though. People do as they’re told and “calm down and let it go” after facing things like this all the time; you just don’t see it. But muting your reaction again and again does not stop this stuff from happening. It only comforts abusers and keeps abuses invisible to those not being abused.

  12. #12 dunc
    October 16, 2013

    A “time lie”? Uh huh.

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    October 16, 2013

    I’m not characterizing people’s anger about sexism as pitchforking. I’m defining pitchforking (is that a word now? maybe) as a thing people do in a range of contexts. The fact that mass pitchforking can get off message is, perhaps, evidence that it is unlinked to the key problem at hand (which is somewhat different for the Bora situation, Ofek’s comment, and Sci-Am’s removal of her post). People should get angry about sexism.

    You can certainly see people doing as they are told if you look for it, but I agree by its very nature that fades into the background. I’m not suggesting that people mute their reactions at all. I’m suggesting that people react effectively.

  14. #14 Vikki Frederick
    October 16, 2013

    I think the evidence is mounting that this is not a one-off behavior, despite Bora’s claim that it was a singular event.

  15. #15 A Hermit
    October 16, 2013

    I don’t know the guy from a hole in the ground. All I know is he crossed a line. He should resign.

  16. #16 A Hermit
    October 16, 2013

    And I just noticed the update…never mind.

    Now if we could get Ben Radford to do the same…

  17. #17 Kate Clancy
    October 16, 2013

    I actually still believe our response to SciAm was the right one. Life is on a 24/7 schedule now, and if you are going to pull the post of someone influential on a Friday — particular if that someone is a black woman and you have no history of pulling the posts of others on the network — you’re going to hear about it all weekend. It was well-directed pitchforking.

    I just want to lend support to what Kathryn is saying — and this is coming from someone who has written how conflicted I have been very very recently. I’m really not so conflicted any more. I am angry at myself, and I am angry at who manipulated me into “helping” him.

    The only correct recourse is to stand behind those who are targeted by harassers and abusers. We can create opportunities for the harassers/abusers to take responsibility for their actions, and learn, and get better, once we first move them out of leadership positions. But the victim needs to be front and center. We need to get them the help they need and take action to prevent this from happening.

    If Bora’s the man I think he is under all this, he will respect all of us making this move to NOT vocalize public support for him, but just for the women he targeted. And now that Bora has voluntarily resigned from ScienceOnline, I am hopeful that he will get the help he needs.

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    October 16, 2013

    Kate, I don’t agree about the response because the fact remains that not everything and everyone is on the 7/24 schedule, especially big old organizations like Scientific American. I think the more important point there is that the reasons they gave for taking down DN Lee’s post are a post hoc justification and that they shouldn’t have taken it down to begin with. So I’m totally unsatisfied with what happened and with the current situation but the Saturday night vs. Monday part of it just doesn’t concern me.

    As to the rest of what you are saying, exactly. You and Kathryn are right about all of that.

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    October 16, 2013

    I’m going to go throw up and then take a nap.

  20. #20 daedalus2u
    October 16, 2013

    The goal (my goal at least) is not to have zero-tolerance for any degree of sexual harassment and to cast all who violate that zero-tolerance threshold into a bottomless pit from which they can never recover.

    My goal is to change the default atmosphere and the power dynamic so that people don’t have privilege over others that can be used to exploit and extort sexual favors.

    Giving people a “death penalty” doesn’t give them an incentive to change their behavior and be readmitted to the community of well-meaning non-exploitative individuals. A “death penalty” also impedes people discussing being sexually harassed openly.

    The fact is, that once someone is sexually harassed, there is no way to achieve “justice”, no way to put that episode back in the bottle, no way to turn back the clock and unhear and unsee what ever happened. Bleach in the eyeballs doesn’t work.

    Having just heard that Bora has resigned, no way to forget that even icons have feet of clay.

  21. #21 The Science Pundit
    October 16, 2013

    Kara (#6)

    Perhaps not at the same level, but from some perspectives, it may be worse. For example, consider the fact that Monica was a prospective science writer who was already successful in a different field. While we’ll never know how much science writing/blogging is poorer for not having Monica as part of the community, I think that we would all feel a loss if Hannah left.
    What Hannah had to tolerate was ongoing harassment from somebody with power in the field she chose as a career and the head editor at a place she called home. True, what she had to put up with wasn’t as overt or as acutely threatening as what happened to Monica, her place at SciAm blogs and possibly career were under threat (or it least it really felt that way to her) from somebody who could be easily viewed as her direct supervisor.
    Anyway, those are my thoughts on the matter.
    Disclosure: I got to meet both Bora and Hannah at the same Drinking Skeptically event where Hannah first met Bora. I found them both to be extremely pleasant and charming.

  22. #22 Fred smith
    October 17, 2013

    I think there was a shocked delay before people reacted to Boraz. First because of initial shock and disbelief. Then lots of deeper processing as the truth sunk in. However at this point I have seen much more written in blogs and comment sections than on twitter with respect to the Boraz case(s).

  23. #23 F
    October 17, 2013

    Kate, I don’t agree about the response because the fact remains that not everything and everyone is on the 7/24 schedule, especially big old organizations like Scientific American.

    While I agree that there seemed to be less outrage than i would have expected directed st Ofek, SciAm effectively threw DNLee under the bus, as it were. The persons responsible at SciAm certainly had the time to notice and take down DNLee’s post, but not any time to even, I dunno, email her about it? The general anger was only heightened by the idiotic and contradictory statements issued by SciAm afterward.

    That said, yes, the pitchfork brigades do tend to begin to pitch their forks at the drop of an extra-large hat sometimes.

  24. #24 Robert Goodsense
    October 18, 2013

    Good article.
    But in the end is very questionable to classify that meeting as a professional meeting.
    A professional meeting is a meeting between two people who are linked by a work contract signed by both or by their representatives.
    Is that the case?
    Because if that is not the case, how can that meeting qualify as a professional meeting?
    It could at maximum be considered a “meeting that in the intentions of one of the participants could possibly lead in the future to a work contract”.
    But it’s not a professional meeting. At least “not yet”.

  25. #25 Greg Laden
    October 19, 2013

    Robert, I’ve never heard that definition before. A person blogging at Scientific American is in such a contract based relationship with the blog manager. A person being considered as a blogger is at the equivalent of a job interview.

    Is this definition written down somewhere? Are job interviews really not professional meetings? Are these semantics important here?

  26. […] for his influence in online spheres. Beloved or not, his actions were unacceptable, and his and SciAm’s responses were accepted by the affected parties. People in the SciAm offices spoke highly of Zivkovic while I was there, and even during the […]

  27. […] for his influence in online spheres. Beloved or not, his actions were unacceptable, and his and SciAm’s responses were accepted by the affected parties. People in the SciAm offices spoke highly of Zivkovic while I was there, and even during the […]

  28. #28 Deep Thought
    December 26, 2013

    The first time I interacted with Bora was on his original blog back in October, ’04. We had years of lively debate and discussion and a fair amount of disagreement.
    Of course.
    But I had to stop interacting with him because of his bigotry and his attitude toward women. Indeed, I am surprised at how many who claim to know him that are surprised by his actions.
    I hope that he can recover from this. I hope that this does not harm his marriage or his relationship with his children.
    But I am, sadly, not surprised.

  29. #30 Emilia
    July 26, 2014

    Hm… isn’t Bora Zivkovic one of the people who got after the three Duke Lacrosse players falsely accused of raping a stripper – even after it became clear the charges against the three young men were a hoax? I fail to see what the Duke players did that was any worse than what Zivkovic has done.

  30. #31 Emilia
    November 30, 2014

    Does Bora’s ‘heartfelt’ confession remind anybody of this guy?

  31. #32 Greg Laden
    November 30, 2014

    Emilia, no, I’m sure it doesn’t. You’d have to have a pretty warped view of reality to jump to that comparison.

  32. #33 Emilia
    November 30, 2014

    Just after the Duke lacrosse scandal broke out, Bora said, ‘Nobody was good in the case: not the boys, the girls, the prosecutor,’ as if watching strippers perform was the equivalent of accusing someone of rape (which ends up hurting real rape victims) or trying to indict people who are clearly innocent. So I wonder: what did the three Lacrosse players do that was so much worse than what Bora did?

    I’m comparing him to Jimmy Swaggart because before Swaggart was ‘caught in the act’ with a prostitute,’ he made a career of exposing other evangelists who had been unfaithful to their wives. The only difference: most people don’t take Swaggart too seriously.

  33. #34 Emilia
    November 30, 2014

    In short, both are hypocrites.

  34. #35 Greg Laden
    November 30, 2014

    As far as I know, Bora has been accused of inappropriate exuberance. You are saying Swaggard had sex with sex workers. I don’t remember what the LaCrosse players did, but I do recall that over time there was a thorough investigation.

    So, Bora’s been accused of something that is fairly mild on the overall scale of accusations (founded or otherwise) but there has never been any kind of investigation or findings by anyone other than Everybody On The Internet. Swaggart was serial friend of prostitutes, and I have no idea how to interpret that or what to think of it, and the Lacrosse case is yet entirely different.

    How can you say that Bora and Jimmy are similar, that Bora would be a hypocrite like Jimmy for having made comments on the basis of untested assumptions, if you using uncritically accepted untested assumptions about Bora?

    That isn’t even close to logical. What are you playing at? Did you just find out about Bora and got all mad or something?

  35. #36 Emilia
    December 3, 2014

    I really don’t find Bora’s ‘inappropriate exuberance’ particularly offensive, but I do find it hypocritical that he accused the Lacrosse players of not being ‘good’ (i.e. equating them to a prosecutor who railroaded innocent people or a false rape accuser – whose actions might ultimately hurt real rape victims) because they watched a stripper.

    Can I direct you to this:


    February 17, 2007

    There was NOBODY good in that case, not the boys, not the girls, not Nifong, not the lawyers, not the University, not the media, not the bloggers, so it is hard to be sympathetic towards any of them, even if one really WANTS to root for one side or another. That’s why that did not catch on.

    To tell the truth: I don’t even think what Swaggart did was necessarily ‘bad’ as in criminal: as far as I’m aware, the prostitutes he saw were consenting adults. I just don’t see in this case why Bora had to criticize the lacrosse players when they really didn’t do anything worse than he has.

    On another topic, I find it puzzling that some people in the sceptical community who – rightly – laugh a creationists fell for a hoax like the Duke Lacrosse incident. Yes, I think the woman’s claim should have been investigated, but even after it turned out the case was a crock, some so-called ‘sceptics’ (i.e. Amanda Marcotte) held to the suspects’ guilt. I’m not directing this at you or even at Bora; I just think it’s strange that some sceptics aren’t so sceptical at stories that don’t fit their political bill.

  36. #37 Emilia
    December 3, 2014

    Sorry, I meant to say ‘laugh AT creationists.’

  37. #38 Greg Laden
    December 3, 2014

    Well, Bora has said of himself that he was not good, so I don’t think you have a Tu quoque argument here.

  38. #39 Tout Venant
    May 19, 2016

    Well, maybe will this change when women WILL be charged for sexual harassment.
    Women in my department constantly brags about their sexual experience.
    Why should they be allowed to do so ?
    That will happen soon.
    Equality is a funny thing. Those laws’ laws had been used recently to close women only business, and have have forced women_only association to open their doors.
    The consent laws (yes mean yes) will have the same effect.
    Lots of people of both sex out of work, or in jail.

    Be carafull about your answers, i can feel a little trigerred…