Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Looks like the big dogs are coming out to play: Science Journal (Almost) Polices the Blogosphere


  1. #1 Kurt
    April 27, 2007

    I suppose it’s good that this event is getting a lot of coverage, because the broader issue of fair use in the blogosphere is something that deserves some thought.

    However, I did notice that the SciAm blog post got a couple of minor details wrong. But what really jumped out at me was the following bit: “…neuroscience PhD student Shelley Batts (who based on her pictures alone seems to be both attractive and avian-friendly)…” Would they have made a comment like that about a male blogger? Maybe something like, “… PZ Myers (who based on his pictures alone seems to be both scruffy and squid-friendly…”??? I don’t think so.

    (I am painfully aware that this may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black, or whatever, so all I can say is, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.)

  2. #2 Clark
    April 27, 2007

    I’d be happy if someone made a comment about me like that as a male blogger.

  3. #3 Roy
    April 27, 2007

    You are famous now! 🙂

  4. #4 Bill
    April 27, 2007


    That’s not a pet, it’s an ingredient. Mmmm, parrot cake.

    But seriously, Clark, what happens when the same person (whose comment on your looks made you happy) ignores your ideas because of what you look like, and says things like “don’t worry your pretty head about that, Clark dear”?

    And who has even seen any such comments about male bloggers’ appearance? I’m sure there have been some, but I can’t think of any offhand — whereas I think I could find such a comment aimed at nearly every female blogger I read.

  5. #5 Nikhil Swaminathan
    April 28, 2007

    I think I’d refer to PZ as dapper and bespectacled. He also looks vaguely like my dad. I feel comfortable with him and look upon him like a sage–except when he’s erecting a fence between he and anyone who has some interest in religion. I find that a little counterproductive.

    Shelley: Way to fight the good fight. Thanks for pointing out a bit of an overstatement in the press’ handling of a scientific study. I am glad legal action was avoided.

  6. #6 Clark Goble
    April 28, 2007

    Bill, note I don’t disagree in the least. If someone values appearance over intellect that’s bad. Especially if it gets to the point of devaluing someone’s skills. Hopefully I didn’t convey otherwise.

    I just worry that sometimes lost in it all is the idea that a complement is a complement.

    Having said that though I find folks who complement women like this slightly creepy. Sort of like the guy in the bar doing bad pickup lines. If someone is married on top then it is, to me, really creepy. I can’t imagine complementing a woman on appearance now than I’m married. It’d really seem like I was doing something wrong. I’m not judging those who do this more naively. Just that it is creepy to me.

    Having said that though I still enjoy complements myself. And I have been so complemented in the past. Sadly marriage meant fewer trips to the gym, especially with a precocious toddler and a new baby. Maybe one day… But I fully recognize that what most men experience and what most women experience in these matters are quite different. The structures in our society definitely aren’t symmetrical. But I still do think we all need to lighten up a tad.

  7. #7 Kurt
    April 28, 2007

    I’m kind of scratching my head over Nikhil’s response above, since the portion which is responding to my comment is basically a non-sequitur. In any event, I see that Zuska has taken up the topic, so I’ll defer any further discussion to her.

  8. #8 Tyler DiPietro
    April 28, 2007

    Please don’t tell me there’s going to be a Razib-esque piling on to SciAm because of that ridiculously innocuous remark about Shelley’s attractiveness. The SciAm blogger probably noted that Shelley is hot because he is A.) male and B.) heterosexual. Men aren’t one dimensional, ladies.

  9. #9 Chris
    April 28, 2007

    This isn’t the first time that the attractiveness of certain SBers has been brought up.

  10. #10 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    April 28, 2007

    I read that entire piece of “journalism” and didn’t see a single mention of a pony.

  11. #11 Thony C.
    April 28, 2007

    I thought Shelly is the parrot! I always wanted to ask who the blond is!

  12. #12 Tyler DiPietro
    April 28, 2007

    “I thought Shelly is the parrot! I always wanted to ask who the blond is!”

    I thought GrrlScientist was the parrot…

  13. #13 Shelley
    April 29, 2007

    I posted this in the SB forums, so I thought I’d post it here too:

    So, I’m sure that some are wondering what I think about the ‘attractive’ comments over at SciAm. I caught it the first time, and thought ‘well, I could have done without that bit’ but overall was very pleased that the mouthpiece of a large journal took MY side rather than another journal’s side! Sexist comment aside, that took guts.

    Honestly, I’m not mad, but maybe I should be given all the rumpus over it. I agree its less that respectful, but I can be a bit disrespectful at times (unintentional) and I don’t think any of us (Zuska excluded) could pass the test if all of our blog posts were examined.

    What really happened here was that emotions were running high out here due to WileyGate, which (I’m glad) was resolved peaceable. Thing is, defusing the sitch doesn’t necessarily defuse the emotion. So when SciAm blog tripped up, he got a heapin’ helpin’ of steaming hot rage, part of which was really meant for Wiley.

    So, in summation I’m just happy that this thing turned out ok in the end, and i got a few allys in the process, one of which is a JOURNAL even if the good-old boys thoughtclub isn’t entirely extinct. I’ll take a victory when i see one.

  14. #14 Alan Kellogg
    April 29, 2007

    Shelly, you are a good looking young woman, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re also evidently intelligent, curious, and capable. Though you also show the social insecurity typical of younsg women. Your current picture is a fine example of this last. (You’re trying a bit too hard to impress people with how much a scientist you are.) As you grow and age you will become comfortable in your own skin, and you won’t need to impress people.

    (BTW, if it wasn’t for testosterone boys your age would be hiding at the bottom of mine shafts.)

    Remember, when somebody dismisses your work because you’re a good looking young lady, it speaks more to his willful stupidity than to your capablities.

  15. #15 Tyler DiPietro
    April 30, 2007

    Just so you all know, Alan Kellogg has single handedly pushed me into the majority position here on this issue. I renounce all comments I’ve made thus far.

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