Comments, and respect and support for our friends

Jun 25 2017 Published by under Uncategorized

I do not remember that I ever had to remove a comment. But I will remind us all of the guiding principle for at least this blog: respect for individuals even when we disagree with their positions. If someone's position is so egregious that you need to critique them as opposed to what they say, then its probably time to leave this corner of the blogosphere.

I want to say a few words about DocBecca and some of the comments directed her way, posted here.

I do not think the sympathy to her situation, of which there has been much, especially on the tweets, is inappropriate. She has been a leading figure, here, and elsewhere in our e-community. She has done a great deal for others (her TT aggregator page, for example, was of incredible value to many people). As I have often said, this kind of resource was not available to me when I was young, and it would have made a difference. The kind of support she is receiving was not available before social media.

Further, knowing DocBecca IRL, and knowing her research which is in the large tent of neuroscience, as is some of my work, I know her work is good. I've read some of her papers, and I'd be very glad of having her as a colleague. I am guessing that some of the support for her, and outrage at her situation comes from people who like me, know enough to see  what she does. But flaunting that information has not been part of the discussions, as is appropriate.

One of the tools to keep people "in their place" is isolation. It's historically true, and is still true. Doing what we can to help others is a fundamental task, in my world, and in the world of people who are in this community. So one step we take in the comments/posts/tweets that say to DB: what happened to you is hurtful, and I am sorry.

It is another matter to dissect what happened to her. We don't know beyond the details she provided (as she has said, I put this out there): her department voted unanimously to support her, the Dean turned her down, the  next level (Provost, I believe) said "get funding and I will reverse". But, none of us (that I know of) are in her dept, are the Dean, the Provost, part of the SS that evaluated her proposal, or the NIH PO that did not help her. And speculating what happened there might be satisfying, but I think not useful.

On the other hand, the posts that I (and others) have put up are about the system and the process in general. They were catalyzed by DocBecca, but they are not about her.  The goal of these is less to help one person in particular, but top provide insight that might be useful to a larger group of people.  These posts attract comments. Some have been comments that I interpreted as being general, but other people interpreted differently, as being about DB in specific.

There are difficult to draw lines between attacking someone, and criticizing them. The internet is having some problems with this issue. I do not want this blog and the comments to posts to become part of those problems; my goals are much more modest.

The ocean in which we swim is large, and cold and dangerous. Part of my goal is to help minnows navigate these waters. I invite you to do the same.

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