29 votes

To undermine Katherine Bouman's role in the black hole photo, trolls held up a white man as the real hero -- until he fought back

11 comments

  1. [5]
    dubteedub Link
    Here is a direct link to Andrew Chael's Twitter thread on this subject. I think it is worth the couple minutes to see his full response here -...

    Here is a direct link to Andrew Chael's Twitter thread on this subject. I think it is worth the couple minutes to see his full response here - https://twitter.com/thisgreyspirit/status/1116518544961830918

    It was sadly entirely predictable that as soon as Katherine was put in the spotlight for this development that she would be the subject of harassment and that the internet's reactionary hate hubs would ramp up their disinfo campaigns to try and discredit her. I am really glad that Andrew stuck up for her and set the record straight.

    This harassment campaign against Katie started on women-hating subs on Reddit like /r/MGTOW where they rallied around the supposed men who should have really been given the credit.

    This whole event is like a microcosm for some of the broader harassment and hate campaigns on the internet like Gamergate or Comicsgate.

    22 votes
    1. Luna Link Parent
      Anyone who judges contributions by lines of code is an idiot. You can make FizzBuzz take over 2000 lines if you're really dedicated. I also noticed a lot of selective screenshotting of...

      Anyone who judges contributions by lines of code is an idiot. You can make FizzBuzz take over 2000 lines if you're really dedicated. I also noticed a lot of selective screenshotting of contributions to make it look like all of Katherine's changes were just renaming variables, which says a lot about the MGTOW crowd - they can't handle the idea that women can work on anything big or important in a meaningful way.

      If the MGTOW crowd actually cared about "going their own way" (rather than being thinly veiled sexists), you'd think they wouldn't care about any of this...

      23 votes
    2. [3]
      user2 Link Parent
      In one of the links you provided, the most upvoted commenter writes: "Thank you for posting this. I'm fuming about this for the last hour. Entire fucking google news is filled with the photo of...

      In one of the links you provided, the most upvoted commenter writes:

      "Thank you for posting this. I'm fuming about this for the last hour. Entire fucking google news is filled with the photo of the woman. I've spent fair amount of time doing hard science (applied physics) as well as computational physics, and can tell you that 99% of women have zero interest or intuition for these fields."

      What the fuck. He is not arguing if she did or did not make meaningful contributions, he's stating that only 1% of women make meaningful contributions. What a wall.

      21 votes
      1. [2]
        psi (edited ) Link Parent
        And it's obviously total bullshit. I'm a physics grad student specializing in lattice QCD. I'm admittedly a bit biased here, but I consider my field the epitome of computational physics; my field...

        And it's obviously total bullshit. I'm a physics grad student specializing in lattice QCD. I'm admittedly a bit biased here, but I consider my field the epitome of computational physics; my field is effectively impossible without computers. State-of-the-art work usually require the use of a supercomputer. My advisor is -- surprise -- a woman. Women are certainly underrepresented in this field but not seemingly less than any other field of physics. It would be irresponsible to conflate that lack of presence with a lack of ability.

        And all of this illustrates the fundamental irony of such claims intended to discredit minorities: people who are clearly not experts about the subject nevertheless make categorical claims about them. Take the quoted person:

        I've spent fair amount of time doing hard science (applied physics) as well as computational physics

        What does that even mean? Did they get a degree in applied physics? Simply take a few classes? Neither would be sufficient to know the who's-who of computational physics (which is already too broad of a discipline to talk about meaningfully). And that's assuming we can even take this person at face value.

        Or take the claim that Chael "wrote 850,000 of the 900,000 lines of code". Let's ignore the fact that "lines of code" is not an especially useful metric. Nobody writes 850,000 lines of code in grad school. And unsurprisingly, neither did Chael -- most of those "lines of code" were uploaded data. Such a claim would be obviously suspicious to anybody familiar with computational physics (or even just programming in general), but knowledgeable people aren't the ones who make (or believe) these absurd claims.

        17 votes
        1. cfabbro Link Parent
          It means, "I am pretending to be in the field this story pertains to so my misogynistic lies appear more credible".

          I've spent fair amount of time doing hard science (applied physics) as well as computational physics

          What does that even mean?

          It means, "I am pretending to be in the field this story pertains to so my misogynistic lies appear more credible".

          10 votes
  2. [3]
    Deimos Link
    Here's another article on the story that contains some more/different information: The first picture of a black hole made Katie Bouman an overnight celebrity. Then internet trolls descended.

    Here's another article on the story that contains some more/different information: The first picture of a black hole made Katie Bouman an overnight celebrity. Then internet trolls descended.

    8 votes
    1. Grand0rbiter Link Parent
      Brasil is filled with this too. And trolls are just shitty persons doing shitty things, but those people really believes in all that. Here everything who gives credit to women or tries to...

      Brasil is filled with this too. And trolls are just shitty persons doing shitty things, but those people really believes in all that.

      Here everything who gives credit to women or tries to emphasize what women did is communism or leftist agenda or something similar. And it's not trolling, they are serious.

      I just grew tired and never went back to discussion boards that are not specific.

      4 votes
  3. [3]
    cadadr Link
    I saw this pic of hers on a meme over at /r/programmerhumor, and didn't know it was her (the screen was made to display something else); what a crazy moment that should've been! As someone trying...

    I saw this pic of hers on a meme over at /r/programmerhumor, and didn't know it was her (the screen was made to display something else); what a crazy moment that should've been!

    As someone trying to become a researcher, I hate the idea that I may have to deal with this sort of shit too. Lots of dumb people without anything human in them making sexist attacks, and involving scientists in silly crap that has nothing to do with their science.

    If I was colleagues with these two (I am doing linguistics so I can only fantasize about glory this big :)), I'd feel so much sorry for them, and lots of cringe, both for the sexism and because of the coverage. They come together to ruin one of the best moments of humanity. Just congratulate the folks for what they did and share the joy, fuck off with anything else.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      vivaria Link Parent
      I'm really curious about your wording here. I was under the impression that this kind of behavior is definitely human behavior, albeit behavior that takes years of practice to manage. Don't we all...

      Lots of dumb people without anything human in them making sexist attacks

      I'm really curious about your wording here. I was under the impression that this kind of behavior is definitely human behavior, albeit behavior that takes years of practice to manage. Don't we all start out as grubby little impulsive beasts that (hopefully) learn how critical it is to manage our emotions and treat others with respect?

      Or is the point that certain behaviors are so horrific that they justify dehumanization of the people who behave that way? Sort of a, strong statement to indicate that we want this behavior to have nothing to do with how humans should act.

      5 votes
      1. cadadr Link Parent
        Thanks! Well yes, my reaction is part emotional, and we are all humans. We can all learn if we so desire. But IMHO, we do bear the responsibilities for what we don't learn. I have sexist biases...

        Thanks! Well yes, my reaction is part emotional, and we are all humans. We can all learn if we so desire. But IMHO, we do bear the responsibilities for what we don't learn.

        I have sexist biases too. Stuff that years of participating in the society ingrained in my thought processes, like it did to anybody else. I am eliminating these biases as I encounter them. I know that, like everybody else, that is not a part of my nature, but something I have been taught, directly or in many cases indirectly.

        I also understand the reasons behind these attacks when I empathise with the attackers. The change, the falling apart of the status quo... frightens them, I guess. And fear is human. They are furious, maybe subconsciously so, and that is human.

        All these are human for a definition of human that is biological and maybe ontological, if I am using the term correctly there. When I include the word "human" in the insult of mine you quoted, in my use of the word, and probably in uses of it by others in similar context, it is meant to be attached certain virtues to it (here respect for science and a positive attitude towards equality of sexes and genders), or to stand in for them metaphorically. In that light, I don't know then if my comment should be considered too harsh. I can not accept that this sort of thing is merely a failure to contain emotions. That is when one feels angry, when one feels disbilef towards achivements of someone on the basis of some trait like sex, gender, race, ethnicity or whatnot. Starting a campaign to denigrate a scientist and dismiss her success because the media did not cover the story the way they liked... there is no excuse for such a thing; and while it is true that in the most basic sense that should not mean that one be dehumanised---for such attitude means our system of law falls apart, even when they are guilty of something---, this sort of behaviour can not be included within the confines of anything that is to be considered human in a sense that is not limited to a legal definition of human and contains in it even a trace of virtue. With a strict sense of the word human where it is the name of our species, I then hereby amend my use of the word "human" and replace it with "virtue" instead.

        2 votes