Lawrence Krauss removed as head of Arizona State University Origins project

In March of this year, after several reports of sexual harassment and groping by physicist Lawrence Krauss (the most prominent article was published in Buzzfeed), I decided that, in light of multiple consilient reports, I’d do my own small investigation. I turned up at least three highly credible allegations by people I know reporting Krauss’s harassing behavior and inappropriate touching. After that, I decided that I couldn’t keep quiet about it. I wrote a post on this site, disassociating myself from him and decrying his behavior, as well as similar behavior by anyone towards women. In that post I took the rare step of prohibiting comments, as I didn’t want a social media pile-on.  For both my post and my policy, I took a lot of flak, but I stand by what I said.

After the accusations, Krauss himself was removed from several positions, including his association with the Center for Inquiry, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and the American Humanist Association. Krauss also resigned from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the group that sets the “Doomsday Clock.”

Now Krauss has also been removed from the Origins Project at Arizona State University (ASU), an important project that he headed. As AZCentral reports, Krauss has been replaced as director by Dr. Lindy Elkins-Tanton, ASU’s director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Krauss is still employed at ASU, but is on paid leave and is undergoing further investigation to see whether he should be kept on the ASU faculty.

Krauss himself announced the news on his Twitter feed:

As the AZCentral article notes, Krauss denied the allegations against him.

I am leaving the comments open this time, but I make a special request that commenters be civil, which is the usual requirement for posting.

h/t: Tom

139 Comments

  1. Serendipitydawg
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    I always find it deeply disappointing when this kind of allegation surfaces, especially when it concerns someone whose work one has admired for so long.

    • Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Totally agreed.

      I can’t help wondering how much punishment should be inflicted, though. As determinists, we are obliged to accept that he could not help it, without of course excusing any of his actions. So how much of all this is revenge and how much is trying to prevent its happening again by showing the world what happens to folks who do this sort of thing?

      • Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

        We don’t know, of course, as it’s ASU’s call. But I think if someone really is guilty of harassing and groping women, they have to suffer some public punishment to deter others from the same kind of behavior.

        • Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

          & deter them from recidivating.

          /@

        • Rita
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          Deterrence is the primary reason this must be done. We can’t keep excusing certain individuals because they’ve accomplished a lot, and we don’t want to lose the possible benefit going forward. We have to “bite the bullet” at some time. Otherwise it never stops.

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        I can’t disagree with your comment, however, I remain disappointed.

        That’s the problem with humans, we seem to be hard wired to believe that people could behave better to others.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

          My reply refers to John’s original reply, I fully endorse Jerry’s response.

      • Dick Veldkamp
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        @2 John O’Neill

        It seems to me that you hit the nail on the head.

        How much punishment should be inflicted? The trouble in these cases is that as soon as something comes surfaces, a proper trial is impossible, one is forced to leave one’s job etc.

        I am not sure if this de facto punishment (often before there has been a trial) is commensurate with the crime. Say you have misbehaved 3 times, 10 years ago while you were young and foolish. Does that warrant losing your professorship forever?

        [And NO, I don’t want to excuse anything!]

        • W.T. Effingham
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

          +1

        • Rita
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

          That is the difficult part. Maybe forever is too harsh, but there must be some significant cost attached to this behavior, otherwise we never accomplish the goal of deterrence.

        • eric
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          I doubt very much the school has any interest in punishing him. But if they left him in place, and he harassed someone in the future, they’d get their butts sued off. I’d also like to think that the leadership has a sincere desire to ensure their employees and students can live and work in a harassment-free environment; so they may be thinking of their other employees in making this decision, not Krauss.

  2. Dorsa Amir
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Jerry — thank you for taking this issue seriously and standing up against thie form of behavior. It means a lot, especially coming from respected senior males in academia.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Seconded.

      • Rita
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        +1

    • Posted August 3, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      I agree completely with this, Professor Coyne. I very much appreciate your careful investigation and your reasoned conclusions. We should be very careful, as you have done, before accepting such allegations against a luminary of skepticism and science. But we must stand against predatory behavior in all its forms.

    • Lynn Wilhelm
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Hear! Hear! I definitely admire the way you’ve handled this Jerry.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      I endorse this comment too. Because of Krauss’s stature, not enough senior scientists and atheists are making a stand. Jerry did the right thing by making his own investigation. Other leading scientists and atheists know Jerry is not taking this position lightly and without good reason, and it’s disappointing that so many aren’t also standing against this kind of treatment of women.

      I hope it’s not, as it so often is, (in the words of Mo of the Jesus and Mo cartoons):
      “Besides, it’s not really discrimination if it’s against chicks.”

  3. GBJames
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Sub

    • Diane G
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      sub

  4. Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Is it wrong for me to root for him? I hope he owns up to his past, accepts responsibilty for his reprehensible actions, seeks counseling, alters his behavior, and returns to contributing to science and knowledge.

    • Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      He has denied the allegations. See here for his letter:

      https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IgAGpkAa2vwSMOtFD4iAfwfryTNJbJ_5/view

      Given what he said, I don’t see how he can now own up to what he did.

      • Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        In some respects, given the many persuasive accounts of his reprehensible behavior, Krauss’s unpersuasive blanket denial, however fierce, is more discouraging and disappointing than the behavior itself.

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

          Agreed.

        • Torbjörn Larsson
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:16 am | Permalink

          Yes. Not owning up becomes the crowning achievement of neglecting your fellow humans; conversely owning up seems helpful for everyone involved.

        • Lynn Wilhelm
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

          Definitely agree.

        • Mark R.
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

          Exactly. I could have given Krauss a little respect if he admitted his actions and apologized. I can’t respect someone who lies about their abusive actions.

      • Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        A puzzle why this would be so. The allegations seem correct, and so going ahead from the position that they are true it is puzzling why an academic would double down in denial of an unpleasant truth. Owning up to it at once affirms ones’ allegiance to the truth, as a scientist, and it actually starts to make things a bit better for them.

        • Posted August 3, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

          He may have convinced himself that what he did was not wrong, even though it was. People do that.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    A very sad story for sure. My own closest experience with this issue was many years ago, 1995 to be precise, and I was transferred to an overseas location to replace the person in trouble for sexual harassment. The evidence against him was extreme and he quit the job; however, as is nearly always the case, he denied everything to the end.

  6. Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  7. Jon Mummaw
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Christina Rad made a video about an encounter she had with Laurence Kraus. It’s a bit rambling but certainly believable and I think her take is quite reasonable.

    • Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      “frickin’ clueless”

      /@

      • Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        From her follow up video: “A sexual opportunist with bad game. And yes he can be embarrassingly inappropriate. But a sexual predator?” [Implied “no”.]

        /@

    • Posted August 3, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      I also thought that was a good video. I wonder of Krauss even realizes that such behavior is indeed sexual harassment or worse.

      • yazikus
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        Honestly, how could he not? He’s not lived a cloistered life absent from society. I think at the end of the day, it is another hubris problem. Meaning he knows the behavior is bad, but thinks not when he does it.

    • Lynn Wilhelm
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for posting Christina’s video. I think she does a great job describing her situation with Krauss.

  8. peter
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Another sad example of a witch hunt by the intolerant Social Justice Warriors. The New Prudes as the enemies of science.
    Really, does ANYONE has a chance if some bigot goes to the press?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      You sound like someone right off the Trump train. You would do well to inform yourself maybe even read some of the more recent news on this subject.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      The sheer number of prominent males in power positions who are coming under closer scrutiny concerning their behaviour should at the very least give you pause for thought. Using the term witch hunt in this context shows the exact reason why there has been a “whisper network” among female delegates at events for so many years.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      You seem to be one of the increasing number of people who visit this site just for the anti-SJW articles and don’t bother reading them first. Without placing words in his mouth, Jerry appears to be in _agreement_ with the criticism of Krauss and the action taken against him by his employers.

      Do you know any of the details of this case, or did you just see the headline and leap in?

      • yazikus
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        +1

    • mikeyc
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      That does happen, Peter, but it doesn’t look so here.

    • Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      How do you know the allegations are false?

      And how does accusing someone of inappropriate sexual behavior make the accuser an SJW?

    • Posted August 3, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      You might be listened to if you directed your comments at protesters who want to destroy or demolish monuments and citations of DEAD people such as Peter Faneuil, Andrew Jackson. etc. Being dead, they cannot be taught a moral lesson and are just fodder for virtue-signalling by the New Totalitarians, who want to erase history and rewrite it in favor of
      those with the correct skin color. Personally I think there is a difference between the
      predators like Harvey Weinstein and the schmucks like Krauss who want to cop a feel.
      The latter need to be kicked in the cojones by the women. The former should be put in jail. Question: will men ever learn? I guess those who lack skills and looks of seducers are condemned to go after every woman who looks vulnerable. Pathetic.

    • Posted August 4, 2018 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      That was my opinion until I read Jerry’s original post on this. If anybody was going to stand up for Krauss it was going to be Jerry Coyne and yet he said – after doing his own investigation – that he believes the accusations to be true.

      For that reason, I am forced to conclude that the “SJW”s are right in this instance. I still hope they are wrong and there’s an innocent explanation, but reality doesn’t give a damn about what I hope for.

  9. Frank Bath
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    If Krauss is convicted in law there should be the appropriate punishment. Meanwhile as a teacher he should be kept away from female students. I hope the whole thing will run its proper course and he can be returned to doing good work. Let him not be ostracised from science and rational thinking. I have enjoyed and learned from his books and I hope there will be many more.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Not a lawyer but my understanding and experience concerning sexual harassment is – it is not a criminal offense. Sexual assault or rape, is a criminal offense. I know of know one who was criminally charged for sexual harassment alone. They lose their jobs and positions and the investigations into their harassment is not done by the police.

      • Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        In Finland sexual harassment is a criminal offense.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

          Interesting. So I assume the police are called and actually do the investigation? Do they possibly have specially trained people to do this type investigation? What are the penalties?

          Here in the U.S. if you called the police to do something about an accusation of sexual harassment, I am certain they would tell you they do not handle those things.

          • Frank Bath
            Posted August 3, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

            You must be right. I’ve just checked the law over here in the UK and to my surprise found sexual harassment is not a crime. Something better than losing your job and have the world come crashing down on you is required. It’s worse than prison.

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted August 3, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

              Sometimes it might be good to think of all the victims of sexual harassment who have lost their jobs or a chance at a career among other things. I cannot think of many other activities that seem to get such sympathy for the perpetrator as sexual harassment.

          • Posted August 3, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

            Nordic laws are famously precise. There are several levels of rape and assault and yes, nowadays simple groping is a crime. Sexual harassment (seksuaalinen ahdistelu) is defined as unwanted inappropriate touching.

            Theoretically you could go to prison for up to six months. Usually the penalty is a fine.

            Actual court cases are rare of course.

            • yazikus
              Posted August 3, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

              They are indeed. Is it still blazingly warm up there?

            • Posted August 4, 2018 at 2:42 am | Permalink

              In the end, I can’t resist (I tried, for hours) telling about a recent court case about an incident at a Finnish Parliament Christmas party last winter.

              One MP, a 58-year old male drunk, groped and kissed another, a 49-year old former women’s taekwondo champion.

              This June the old drunk was fined by the court. Correctly, in my opinion, although I guess many other sports stars wouldn’t have seeked similar justice.

              The case wasn’t too difficult to prove as there were several nationally famous politicians witnessing it…

      • Posted August 4, 2018 at 7:21 am | Permalink

        I don’t know what the “inappropriate touching” is but some forms of inappropriate touching could be considered to be a sexual assault.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      “He should be ‘kept away from female students”?

      How would that work exactly? Would they segregate the classes he teaches? What about female lecturers and professors with whom he would have to work?

      And exactly what kind of message would it send if they continued employing him while implicitly conceding that he can’t be trusted to be around women?

      “I have enjoyed and learned from his books and I hope there will be many more.”

      That’s good, he’s a good writer and I’ve enjoyed some of his books and debates. But it’s also completely irrelevant.

  10. Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    During my decades as a journalist I’ve attended dozens of lectures and science conferences (as well as concerts and movie premieres) featuring very controversial figures.

    The thing is, we’ve usually known about the controversies at the time, concerning Lewontin, Damasio, Dennett, Pinker and so on. And time has shown they have made valuable contributions.

    Among scientists, there are now two exceptions, where sudden controversies have risen concerning scientists at the top of their game.

    After I listened to him on a couple of occasions Marc Hauser got discredited for something actually related to his work.

    And now this.

    I don’t know what happened. If the allegations are true, there should be consequences.

    But in the Krauss case we ought to remember that this won’t change anything in the books he has written.

    • µ
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Can you explain what you mean by writing “we’ve usually known about the controversies … concerning Lewontin, Damasio, Dennett, Pinker and so on”

      It sounds as if you suggest that these individuals are guilty of the same alleged behaviors as Krauss? Or do you refer to scientific controversies?

      Also, what you you mean writing “Among scientists, there are now two exceptions”.
      This refers to Krauss and Ayala?

      A brief clarification will help me understand. Much appreciated.
      Concerned.

      • Posted August 3, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        Well, I suggest you read the comment again, more carefully. I suppose I could have made it clearer that I’m speaking of people I’ve met. Ayala I have only read. So the two cases are Hauser and Krauss. As I wrote.

        Concerning Lewontin, Damasio, Dennett and Pinker… Of course I meant scientific and political controversies.

        • µ
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          thank you for clarification.

  11. Silvia Planchett
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I have followed Lawrence for years and never imagined that he was capable of such despicable behavior.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      We’re all susceptible to that failure of imagination when it comes to the people we respect and admire. It’s what insulates these people in the first place. You just can’t imagine someone who comes across as so decent could be such a sleaze.

      OTOH, there are people like Jimmy Savile, who practically held up a neon sign above their heads saying ‘arrest me already’.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        I think Mr Savile is of a different calibre, he was a child rwapist.

    • Posted August 4, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      I’m the same with Rolf Harris. I was amazed when it turned out he was guilty. However, it turned out his TV persona was just an act and he is really fairly unpleasant.

      On the other hand, I’ve always thought of Jimmy Savile as being a bit creepy, even as a child watching him on the telly. The only thing that surprised me with him was the scale of the crimes.

  12. Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    “I turned up at least three highly credible allegations by people I know reporting Krauss’s harassing behavior and inappropriate touching.”

    Just to clarify, were these first-hand or second-hand reports of harassment by your sources?

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Just to clarify, were these first-hand or second-hand reports of harassment by your sources?
      Are you serious?

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Disappointingly I think yes.

      • Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        Well, I am assuming first-hand but just seeking confirmation. What is the problem?

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

          Simply that it implies that a second-hand report is somehow less worthy of attention than a first-hand. Even a second-hand report could, for example, be a colleague reporting a student’s concerns.

          • Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

            Well, I am pretty sure second-hand reports should get less weight than first hand. That is why we have the hearsay rule in court. In any case, I intended no such implication. I asked because Krauss’s response to Buzzfeed claims most allegations are second-hand.

            • Serendipitydawg
              Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

              Accepted, it is simply a question that doesn’t occur to me in this context.

          • Posted August 4, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

            A secondd hand report is worth less. (note the important space between “worth” and “less”). In law a second hand report is hearsay. In historical research eye witness accounts are more valued than non primary sources.

            • Posted August 4, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

              It depends how you count “hands“. First-hand in my mind is the victim; second-hand, eye-witnesses.

              /@

              • Posted August 5, 2018 at 5:36 am | Permalink

                That’s not how I understand the term. First hand is eye witness including the participants. Second hand is somebody who wasn’t there but who heard the story from one of the witnesses.

              • Diane G
                Posted August 5, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

                Technically, the first hand belonged to Krauss…

    • Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      First hand. To me, far more credible than what I read on BuzzFeed because I know and trust those who reported them. But I don’t want to reveal any more information.

      • Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        Of course. Thank you.

      • wendell read
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        I want to thank you for having taken the stand you did. I’m sure you have gotten a lot of flack. In my opinion you did the right thing.

  13. Filippo
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    sub

  14. Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of fellow women at science and atheist events. And when these allegations came out, I talked to more. I also was in Arizona in April and talked to people on the ASU campus, including his majority female staff. I have not had a single woman who has had even a tiny issue with Lawrence over this time (five or six years since I’ve been attending).

    What I will say is this. I have seen him be incredibly generous with his time. I have seen him go out of his way to make people who feel too intimidated or shy to talk to him, comfortable. Does he like to flirt? Certainly. And there are a lot of women that flirt right back, myself included. And I have never once seen him behave inappropriately with any of them. Nor have I heard any woman talk about such behaviour. Not even where large amounts of alcohol are involved.

    Over the years, he’s been an incredibly kind, sweet and decent person through all the times I’ve interacted with him. It’s incredibly sad that accusations alone are enough to damage a career such as his.

    • GBJames
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      But then the behavior you have observed is not what’s being called out. It really isn’t a defense to point to the folk who were not harmed by an offender.

      • µ
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        Well said. I agree

    • Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      OT, I agree with you about the Desert Botanical Gardens, Leanne. 😉

      /@

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      The only comment I can make to your concern is that hopefully, the people at ASU have a trained and competent investigator or unit that handles sexual harassment. If they do, several people would be interviewed during this investigation. They will consider credibility, and look for patterns. All of this will be done in private. It will be detailed and look into the history. Finding are reported to the Authorities at the school and they should be making objective decisions.

      Lots of times people want to declare conspiracies but investigators can generally tell if this is the case.

      • Posted August 4, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        I actually spoke to the investigator. I will refrain from commenting on my opinion on this process.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Yes there is a whole spectrum from flirting to harassment to rape and everything in between. and the boundaries are not always very clear.
      It is good that the harassed can speak out nowadays.
      It is disappointing that Mr Krauss, whom I greatly admire (still do), appears to be a sleaze.
      I feel conflicted, I’m in no position to have a clear judgement. All the evidence I have is second hand. Mr Krauss denies, but then, although what I hear from our host is (by definition) second hand, I hold his judgement in high esteem, so I tend to go with the latter.

    • eric
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      A thief can be a good father. Good people do bad things. We all know in our heads that the world is not separated into good people who do only good and bad people who do only bad…but yet, psychologically, we always tend to gravitate to that assumption, don’t we?

      So I believe everything you say. And I don’t think that at all prevents him from being guilty of what he’s been accused of doing.

      • Posted August 3, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        That does not change the fact that over 5 years, I have neither seen nor heard a single account of him behaving badly with or around women over five years. I find it odd that he was able to come up with three accounts after looking for a few weeks.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted August 4, 2018 at 6:22 am | Permalink

          It is good to hear your opinion, as the ongoing narrative is picking up a head of steam, such that the statement Lawrence Krauss ‘is’ a sleaze becomes unquestioned truth.

          • Posted August 4, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

            Thank you. I would just encourage people to look at these Title IX proceedures and some of the nightmare stories of false accusations coming put of them. Terrance Philips has talked about his on Twitter recently. And R. Shep Melnick has a great book “The Transformation of Title IX: Regulating Gender Equality in Education”

        • eric
          Posted August 4, 2018 at 7:53 am | Permalink

          If you read his defense letter, you’ll see all of the situations in which he’s accused of harassing women are off campus. They were all conferences or speaker engagements.

          [Aside: Which means I guess the school probably shouldn’t think he’s much of a risk of harassing students and co-workers at their University. Which is something I said earlier, though I think the school’s lawyers would likely recommend super caution (i.e. that he’s still a risk) as that’s what lawyers do.]

          So your experience doesn’t really undermine the accusations. If I keep stealing from 7-11 and you say “well, as a McDonald’s worker, I’ve never seen him try and steal fro us”, it doesn’t really count for much.

          • Posted August 4, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

            And yet my experience and that of all the women that I know and have spoken to, are all from conferences and speaker enagements, including social events. Strange how all of those women don’t count for anything.

            • eric
              Posted August 4, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink

              I’m the one accepting women’s statements as counting. All of them. You’re the one being selective. After all, I accept that he didn’t harass the women who testify that he didn’t harass them. I don’t think they’re lying. But you seem extremely unwilling to accept that he did harass the women who testify that he did harass them. Why do you not count them?

              • eric
                Posted August 4, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

                As a follow-up example, take a look at Christina Rad’s video linked to in comment #7. I have no reason to believe she’s lying or exaggerating. If you think she is, what’s your reason? And if you think she’s telling the truth, then don’t you accept that a stranger putting his hand under a ladies’ skirt and proceeding to run it up her inner thigh counts as harassment?

              • Posted August 4, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

                Knowing what has been going on with various other Title IX investigations, and how many have been shown to be built around false accusations, I am always skeptical of anonymous accusations. Especially those againat someone that has ruffled as many feathers as Lawrence. And I am not necessarily discounting those who have testified…I am putting another perspective out there as opposed to Jerry’s as a woman involved heavily in both communities and one who has seen the bs of this investigative proceedure.

              • Gabrielle
                Posted August 4, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

                Why would an investigator from ASU have spoken to you? Are you a character witness?

                Not all the incidents with Krauss happened at conferences or speaking events. In the Buzzfeed article there is an account of a Case Western Reserve undergrad student filing a complaint, at the encouragement of a university dean, back when Krauss was a professor there. There is also the subject of Krauss having to be escorted by another faculty member when he is on the Case university campus. In his defense letter, Krauss asked the university to clarify this matter. I don’t know if that has ever happened.

                There appears to have been some knowledge of Krauss’s behavior in the physics/astronomy world, at least amongst women in the field. Witness this twitter feed here

              • eric
                Posted August 5, 2018 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

                I am always skeptical of anonymous accusations.

                Christina Rad’s accusations are in no way anonymous. And I believe most of the rest of them are not anonymous to the investigators, just to the public.

                Especially those againat someone that has ruffled as many feathers as Lawrence.

                If it were fundie Christians making the accusations, you might have a point. But folks like Rad are (or were) supporters. They support most if not all of his publicly controversial opinions, so implying or suggesting that they’re doing it because they disagree with those opinions is not rational.

  15. Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    It would bother me if Krauss has not received his day in court but perhaps he’s undergone enough serious investigations that we can be fairly sure he is guilty as charged.

    It also bothers me that, unlike in the criminal justice system, the sentence is somewhat random and potentially never ending. Back in the old days, someone who was ostracized from a community for committing such crimes could move to a new town and start afresh and improve their behavior. This is much harder to do in the modern, connected world. Of course, in the old days they could also restart their bad behavior in the new town. How does Krausa prove that he no longer gropes women?

    If we are in favor of reforming the criminal justice system by focusing on rehabilitation over punishment, the vagaries of this kind of punishment bothers me. Is Krauss able to rehabilitate his career? My guess is he won’t get very far. If so, does the punishment fit the crimes? Maybe. I don’t know the details so I am not in a position to make that judgement.

  16. docbill1351
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Within the first few days of arriving at grad school we had a session on “How to Be a TA” taught by one of the professors. It was basically an ethics talk which addressed topics that I thought were obvious: don’t date students,avoid favoritism, be polite, be professional with your language and actions.

    It seems to me that by the time you’re an adult you should know where social boundaries are an if you choose to cross them, it’s your choice.

    … or is it, JAC? I seem to have stepped into a big old pile of Free Will. Sorry, couldn’t avoid it.

  17. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I have no particular opinion on the truth or falsehood allegations.
    I tend to personally classify folks like this into a set of categories which I know are simplistic and pat.
    1) All-out predators: Harvey Weinstein
    2) Jekyll and Hyde personalities: Charlie Rose
    3) Grossly immature in their level of empathy: Dustin Hoffman
    4) Characters in a Greek tragedy- heros with a tragic flaw: Woody Allen (IF he is really guilty).

    I don’t know much about Krauss personally to fit him anywhere.

    I think he is a terrific popular science writer, and especially enjoyed “The Physics of Star Trek”.

  18. Posted August 3, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I have no knowledge of the details of the Krauss affair, so will not comment on that.
    I would like to remind men that all of us have, at some time, been moved to tell some other guy, whose behavior has disturbed us, to “Leave the lady alone, why dont you? Can’t you see that you are bothering her?”
    Think back and you’ll all recall at least a few incidents like that. And that’s been in public. None of us can be surprised that far more has happened when other guys haven’t been there to witness it.
    Metoo should surprise almost no-one.

    • Diane G
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      And by the way, thanks to all of you guys who do intervene like that.

      • Posted August 7, 2018 at 6:53 am | Permalink

        I’m just surprised that male folk are surprised. We’ve (mostly) seen this behavior happen right in front of us so we must assume that it happens when we aren’t around, and almost certainly worse. That’s before we even get to the “do you believe the accusers?” part.

  19. Roo
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I think dynamics like this are very difficult in that they are some of the few instances in our culture that are more ‘honor culture’ based (at least in my understanding, I’m not a sociologist.) Sexual harassment, racism, and addiction are the few instances of this that come readily to mind, where the expectation is that the community and those close to the person will disavow them as a means of social punishment. It’s kind of an interesting sociological case study when you think of it – if a person close to you robs a bank or literally *murders someone, it is seen as honorable and virtuous to go visit them in prison (“When I was in prison you visited me” and all that.) If they take up heroin, then keeping ties is considered enabling, and if they spout racist language you certainly wouldn’t want to be seen around them. That would actually be social suicide in a way that visiting a murderer in prison *wouldn’t be.

    That said, I get that those intuitions can flip on their head when the person in question is suddenly someone you care about or even just like. My feelings on addiction completely changed when one of my own family members was impacted. I went the ultimatum route, stuck to it, and have regretted it ever since. So yes, I feel more sympathetic towards Krauss than Harvey Weinstein. Is that hypocrisy or is it expanding to feel more compassion when someone I like is the one with the problem? I guess it depends on how you look at it, I don’t know.

  20. Posted August 3, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Should there be infinite punishment for a finite offense?

    • yazikus
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Is sexual harassment a finite offense?

      • Posted August 3, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        Is any offense not finite?

        • yazikus
          Posted August 3, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

          The courts certainly seem to think so. We consider victim impact, do we not?

          • Posted August 3, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

            By the same token losing your job then getting it back later is infinite. I’m not saying there should be no consequences. I suggest that they be scaled to whatever offenses are proven. If you’re going to say that sexual harassment is an infinite offense then you can’t distinguish between that, shoplifting a candy bar and a mass murder. I think there is a difference is severity between offenses so they can’t all be infinitely severe.

            • yazikus
              Posted August 3, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

              I suggest that they be scaled to whatever offenses are proven.

              Which is what the justice system tries to do. I have yet to hear anyone advocating for ignoring the severity (or lack of) various crimes. I think we can all distinguish the difference between a pilfered candy bar and mass murder.

              I think there is a difference is severity between offenses so they can’t all be infinitely severe.

              Don’t we all think this?

  21. Gabrielle
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Prof. Coyne was able to locate and speak with three credible first-hand sources to substantiate the harassing behavior of Krauss, evidently within a few weeks of the Buzzfeed article coming out. These are facts that are not in dispute, no matter what other people’s experiences with Krauss may have been.
    There is also the Youtube video of Christina Rad.

    • Gabrielle
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      This was meant as a reply to #14 cosmicslice.

      • yazikus
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. People who have selectively bad behavior know it behooves them to behave very appropriately the rest of the time.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      One thing that should be clearly stated regarding sexual harassment is how it is suppose to work. Just like most other bad activities, we should not judge them by tweet or facebook or how many comments on line. That is just crap. Sexual harassment is a very serious problem and requires serious investigation by trained investigators who know what they are doing. This is not a public opinion process or voted on to determine the conclusion.

      This celebrity sexual harassment case is a very small minority of the whole. Mostly it goes on in the offices and businesses across the country and no one ever hears anything about it outside of the company. The lack of understanding about this subject makes it blatantly obvious that it happens this way.

      • Diane G
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        And despite the public attention being paid to a few high profile cases, very little has changed for the harassment targets in all those unsung offices and businesses–and which victims are generally highly unlikely to run into those trained investigators you mention.

        • Blue
          Posted August 6, 2018 at 7:50 am | Permalink

          From at where I have been employed for
          the last 27 years’ time — a major public
          university, that is, within “higher”
          education ?

          I utterly concur, Mr Randall / Ms Diane G.
          Even within an allegedly enlightened
          community, … …
          very, “very little has changed.”

          Blue

  22. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    This is a tragedy in the literary sense of the word: “Bad things happening to a person because of flaws in his character”. I’ve admired Krauss since his regular column in New Scientist magazine which he shared with another hero of mine, AC Grayling. Krauss is a great exponent of rational thought. Doubtless the revelations of sexual offenses by Krauss will continue to negatively impact his career. Sadly, they will also discourage people from reading his excellent writings.

  23. Blue
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    It has been my lifelong observation that
    people since they were and are circa the age
    of eight years know how to treat other people
    … … with whom they have to interact. The two
    exceptions are truly mentally ill kiddos and
    non – reintroduced child soldiers. Children
    the World over by this age, otherwise, know
    what makes them individually feel good and
    what makes them feel bad or sad or threatened
    and frightened.

    So, from this age and by their experiences,
    they then know how it is that they should
    behave. With others. Likewise, they then
    also know when they are not with others
    behaving in a manner compatible with what
    they know. Whether determinism, whether a
    choice actually is not relevant. To a
    behavior’s outcome. Persons know. Before
    they do something, they had had to think up
    what it is they were going to go ahead and
    do. And then they went ahead and did it. We
    know what we are about to, or have, done.

    Blue

    • Blue
      Posted August 3, 2018 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      It has also been my observation that
      the World over there are far, far more
      women and men ( than not / than those who do not, )
      WHO, without big $dosh$ ever,
      without laud and celebrity ever and
      with their being UNheralded ever and
      without power, control or advancement ever
      … … not only accomplish
      great and marvelous and huge things
      ALL of their lives but also
      ALL throughout their lives’ long and
      within ALL of their dealings with
      other people and stuffs
      do … … The Right Thing.

      I have known of these people.
      Almost ALL of the people I know are of thus.
      And have been: for just ever.

      SO: it is well – known that: a person CAN
      go throughout their entire life withOUT
      concertedly and knowingly trying to hurt another.
      Or withOUT denying it when … … they have.

      Blue

      • Posted August 3, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Reply to item 2:

        Dear Blue,

        If you have met all the paragons of virtue
        you reference and they are as you believe them to be, they and you are most fortunate.

        I have met many wonderful people that have done many wonderful things. But, without knowing for absolutely certain, I can’t imagine that each has never taken a false step, never made a bad choice or were never mistaken in some way. Most people seem to be mostly “good”, but all of us have some “bad” to a greater or lesser extent. At least, I am this way and I know it. There are a number of things I’ve said or done in my earlier years that I wish I had done better or differently. Live and learn, one hopes. May I continue to grow and change as I age and until I die.

        I will hazard a guess that there are any number of behaviors that those you know have committed that they may be ashamed of and haven’t shared with you. Human beings are not perfect and make errors. Fortunately, most of us learn better. Fortunately, many of us want “good” for all.

    • Posted August 3, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Dear Blue,

      There are different methods for rearing and teaching children the world over dependent on the culture the children are raised in. Some cultures do not instruct their young children or attempt to control their behaviors when they are young. Hispanic and Middle Eastern cultures are such according to numerous examples I’ve known. Certain oriental cultures are very permissive with younger children, becoming more and more the teacher of cultural expectations and controlling of behavior the closer the child gets to being a teenager.

      Insofar as I’ve read or seen, there are no universal standards taught to or learned by all children of any particular age. Look around you at some of the 35 year old “children” you may know, as I do.

      • Blue
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        This, Ms Kitchen, what you state I have long
        known. As excused as “culture” often. Okay
        or not okay but often or almost always
        excused away as culture taught or modeled to
        children by others.

        What I mean by children around eight years of
        age is not what others ‘ve taught them but
        .is. of what they, by that age, feel, believe
        and have themselves alone experienced. BY
        that time in their life. Then … …
        beyond. As happiness, as safety, as being
        okay or as being frightened and feeling sad,
        bad or threatened. Not excused away as
        “culture”.

        As how they themselves get to being about
        eight years old from their own experiences.

        Blue

        • Posted August 3, 2018 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for the clarification.

          If behavior is not taught and modeled to children by the adults in a culture, children learn other behaviors on their own, from their peers or other sources. You are right.

          I have known many children of eight and older who haven’t developed in the way you describe. I have taken care of many young children from different origins and cultures
          who have different understandings of the world and what kinds of behaviors are acceptable. No uniformity.

          I have known children whose parents abused them in various ways, some of whom ended up in foster care, only to be abused there. Some of these children ended up in CYA. I have known 30 or 40 children who were in CYA (California Youth Authority), the children’s equivalent of prison in California. I have known one very good man who took in such boys from CYA and devoted his entire life to their care and nurturing. He felt that if one of the many he took grew up to live a “normal” life as an adult, he had been successful. Most of these boys did not escape their past
          and did not live “normal” lives.

          I have known children raised in the ghetto with family who used drugs, kept guns, and stole. They also learned to sell drugs, steal and/or use the welfare system as some in their family did. Some of them went to jail. Some did not.

          As a parent of children, I have had friends and acquaintances whose children I knew quite well. Most have turned into fine adults, but a number of them had incidents of antisocial or illegal behavior.

          If there were something I could do about it, all these children would have been loved, nurtured, taught, and well cared for. We adults must do that.

  24. Posted August 3, 2018 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Many years ago, in the firm I worked for at the time, a senior colleague was “let go”, after putting his hand on the tuchis of one of the female executives, spontaneously but firmly, on stage at a corporate event.

    There was never any suggestion that he was persona non grata, but it was clear that his action was inappropriate and against the corporate code of conduct.

    I have no idea if this harmed his career in the long term, but of course the issue was handled discretely rather than being bandied about the internet, this being pre–social-media.

    /@

  25. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Another small item that you might want to know when considering the mysteries of why many people will do sexual harassment. Everyone has character flaws of one kind or another. What makes a person a rapist. Another a sexual assault. I suspect many people do not even know they are sexual harassment prone but many others do. Sexual harassment most often is a power thing and with the right environment they do it. It is often supervisor or manager to an employee. They have power over the employee for various reasons. A teacher has it over students. Some are really careful in what they do and stay hidden for years. Others just harass the employees all the time and in front of others. There are all kinds. For most there is a history. They don’t just do it once and stop, so the investigator looks for a history. The fact that employees are afraid to report sexual harassment, work in a place where there are no policies and no where to go all works in favor of the harasser. To understand how bad it can get, go look up sexual harassment in the military.

  26. Gabrielle
    Posted August 3, 2018 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    My current employer (a mid-sized defense contractor in the US) recently had a lunch-time seminar about how they handle harassment complaints. It was led by our HR director (a man) and a lawyer from the legal dept. (a woman). They said that when a complaint is made, the investigation team includes people from both HR and the legal dept, and that they try to include a mix of men and women. Interestingly, no one from management is allowed to investigate complaints. They said that there are a variety of disciplinary measures they can employ, other than firing a person, though they didn’t go into any details. The one firing offense is retaliation against a complainant.

    This is considerably different from how my former employer of 25 years ago (a large industrial firm) handled harassment complaints. There management handled investigations directly, which is to say that no real investigations were ever carried out.

  27. Dale Franzwa
    Posted August 4, 2018 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    A side note. I am a big fan of a science program on the Science Channel (cable or satellite only) entitled: “How the Universe Works.” Many top notch scientists (astronomer Phil Plait is one) appear on the show. Lawrence Krauss has played a prominent role on the series for many years.

    The series usually has about six episodes per season. I had watched five shows of the current season, all featuring Krauss. Then Jerry came out with his post. Within a few days, I tuned in the final episode. Nowhere was Lawrence Krauss to be found on that show and his name was no longer listed in the credits. Wow! What a mad scramble must have ensued to remake that episode before its scheduled airing.

  28. Posted August 5, 2018 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    I do not concur with the way Krauss has been dealt with in regard to these charges. I feel that the treatment he has received is lacking in any sense of justice, that there has been an unfair rush to judgement, and that the way he has been treated is totally disproportionate to the charges that have been made. I am disappointed that my fellow rationalists have been complicit in all of this… I would have expected better of them. I suspect an element of virtue posturing in all of this. I would not have expected such treatment of someone who has been such a friend and ally, in the rush to judgement make him into a pariah.

    First let me address the justice of the process itself. This has all been a trial by internet. Various complaints have been made about Krauss inappropriate behaviour. No police charges though have arisen though, no police interviews. The charges have been one sided, and often involving second hand stories. Their has been no chance for Krauss to answer his accusers in any form that could be considered due process. The presumption of innocence until proper trial and examination and decided verdict has been totally disregarded.

    I would address the issue of proportionality. Krauss has been accused of being a groper, a sexual creep. For this accusation he has been stripped of all honorary associations, of his professional position, of his memberships in the many associations he played such a vital role on our behalf. I believe this is not only premature versus judicial process, it is disproportionate to the charges that have been made. There is a wide spectrum of inappropriate sexual behaviours but these days but we seem to lump them all together. I doubt that were Krauss an accused rapist would the treatment be more severe than it has been for the crime of being a sexual creep. Why is it that it was a journalist who raised these charges, that it seems that this supposed terrible behaviour was so tolerated by us without raising this as an issue. What does this say about us?


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