Scientific American Editor Says, "I'd Hit That"

In a round-up of some of the coverage of Shelley's run-in with Wiley, Scientific American's Nikhil Swaminathan wrote the following:

Anyway, on Tuesday, over at the ScienceBlog Retrospectacle, neuroscience PhD student Shelley Batts (who based on her pictures alone seems to be both attractive and avian-friendly) posted an analysis of a study appearing in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, which suggested that the antioxidants properties in fruits were boosted by alcohol.

So, Nik wants to hit that shit. This is, like, two steps away from passing Shelley a note in homeroom that reads "Do you like me?" and has two empty boxes marked "Yes" and "No". The rule is Shelley is supposed to check one of them and pass the note back to Nik -- in case you didn't know. Now, this isn't all that professional of a representative of Scientific American, but some guys ain't as smooth as the other side of the pillow. What? I fucked that line up? Well, screw me with a screen door on a submarine.

Here's the interesting twist: Shelley linked to the SciAm blog post without commenting on Nik's complement/sexist-remark. This was brought up in the comments, and Shelley is yet to respond. Whether she does or not is up to her. But I'm wondering which box she's checked.

As expected, Zuska is pissed, but that was expected, as expected.

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We may be sexual beings, but how often did the popular science press refer to Carl Sagan as the "attractive scientist?"

this is a common talking point, but i think that you're actually wrong implying that looks do not matter for male public intellectuals. e.g., this interview with richard dawkins is not the first i've seen where he is characterized as 'handsome.' or, how is it that out of all the grad students who came out of peter underhill's lab @ stanford spencer wells, he of the "rugged california good looks" (though he's a texas), became a public face of genetic science?

the comment about shelley was not appropriate, and, no offense to shelley a writer wouldn't say that about an anonymous scientist. but let's not compare apples to oranges. sam harris isn't the public face of the 'new atheism' cuz he's a genius ;-)

Is it my imagination, or does the first commenter assume he's Chet Snicker?

So noticing a person likes birds is sexist?

I know, we're not supposed to notice people look good. Boy or girl, we're supposed to ignore their appearance.

Got news for you, Shelly's a good lookin' gal. Young, alert, intelligent. From the posts on her blog she's obviously a good conversationalist, and more inventive than your hand. I like that in a woman.

A big part of our asessment of a person is based on appearance. It's a fact of life that goes back to our proto-age ancestors. Shelly looks healthy, with even features. Her youth and well proportioned shape adds to the picture. It comes down to this, she looks like a good f***. Evern better, a good F*** one could learn to know better. Not just a lover, a friend.

We're sexual beings, you can't avoid it. The problem lies not in treating somebody as a sexual being, it lies in treating them as an object, a thing to be used. You assume that because somebody refers to Shelly as good looking, he's treating her as an object. How do you know that he's not simply referring to Shelly Batts as a good looking woman, because she is a good looking woman?

Is it really concern for women that guides you, or a different rationale for keeping them on the pedestal?

Despite that Alan's comment was a bit, oh, dick-headed sounding, I mostly agree with it. We are certainly sexual beings, but it's important to realize times that are more appropriate and less approprate to acknowledge that - in particular realizing past history and the difficulties of being a female scientist. In a published article, I would judge the comment to be a bit belittling and unneccessary, but on a blog, meh, I'd be more upset knowing he didn't say it.

We may be sexual beings, but how often did the popular science press refer to Carl Sagan as the "attractive scientist?" I don't think I've heard Richard Dawkins referred to as the "handsome proponent of Evolution and atheism" despite the fact that he looks pretty good in some of his press photos.

I'd point out some of the attractive male bloggers here but A) it seems a little creepy, B) I wouldn't want to insult someone by leaving them off the list, and C) it wouldn't be a fair listing since I'm a straight guy who would be trying to think about what women would find attractive. ;)

Nice comment Bob, I second.

but how often did the popular science press refer to Carl Sagan as the "attractive scientist?"

Umm... Maybe there were reasons for that beyond sexism. Ditto Dawkins. Now if Richard Dawkins looked like Brad Pitt I'd lay really good odds it'd be mentioned in the media a lot.

Maybe we mention that a woman is good looking because we're expected to say that a woman is good looking? But saying that a man is good looking --- and Carl Sagan was a right handsome fellow --- get's people to look at you funny.

Well, I confess I'd be hard press to say Carl Sagan was handsome. But hey, I'm not really of the right orientation to judge I suppose. I do note that a quick Google shows a lot of popular reference to Sagan as handsome. Note the NYT quotes a Times review of one of Sagan's books. They they call Sagan, "''a scientific Robert Redford, handsome and articulate and all business.''

So while I've come around to seeing the comment as inappropriate, there do seem to be a lot of double standards at play here.

I think the pictures are fine, gives the blog a personal touch. A bit candid, but nothing out of the ordinary. I guess the real issue here is the relative notoriety of scientific american writer. If the average joe made a dumb comment it would just be ignored. Anyway, RPM is essentially saying the same thing as the guy from scientific american, only more explicitly. If he really thought it was an insult, he would not have rubbed it in Shelley's face like this, by labeling her an object, and then "shit". Nice touch RPM.

You may or may not like the lady being called attactive (aka HOT), but the comments to this "story" are filled with words such as dickhead, fuck, etc--and that is as offensive to some of us as references to a woman's looks.

but how often did the popular science press refer to Carl Sagan as the "attractive scientist?"

Not often about Sagan, perhaps, but practically every news story about Steven Pinker seems to bring up his "attractive" appearance -- I guess lots of hair is considered attractive -- whatever.

Well, to get right to the heart of your post, I think you mean "compliment" not "complement." I say this just to prove I am a professor.