Survey finds 22% of scientists who do media interviews about COVID get violent threats

Originally published at: Survey finds 22% of scientists who do media interviews about COVID get violent threats | Boing Boing


That this happens at all is another indicator of societal decline in a once advanced nation-state.


$HERSELF muses that most of the abuse targets are women [1]. Alas, there doesn’t seem to be enough information given (after all, not a statistically designed survey) to test that conjecture.

[1] Thanks to knoxblox for pointing out my neglect.


With the life sciences being one of the more diverse demographically, I’m betting yes.


Weirdest kind of kookery.


Ah, yes: "COVID-19 vaccines are “in violation of all 10 of the Nuremberg Codes”.


In the book Chatter by Ethan Kross (which I really thought was valuable but that’s another story entirely) he details being the subject of a threat for going on TV to talk about sleep science, of all things.

I suppose anyone in the scientific field who goes on television is risking this sort of unhinged behavior and covid is ratcheting up the dregs of society who vent in this manner. It’s concerning to see people in such a poor state.


The time honored practice of “shooting the messenger”. Go USA!


If there’s one thing that the American far-right cares about, it’s upholding international law. /s


I’m having trouble parsing this statement. Are you saying we shouldn’t believe women unless it’s backed up by rigorous evidence searching?


I’m saying that the original source hasn’t performed the kind of survey that would allow us to test they hypothesis that the 22% are disproportionately female, despite our strong suspicions that that is the case.

ETA: thanks for pointing out the missing verb ‘are’.

So, original reporting from these women (as noted in the Nature article) is not accurate unless we dig deeper? Like when police don’t believe rape victims, or school administrators punish girls at school for boys’ lack of decorum over dress codes? Sounds rather misogynistic to me.

1 Like

That feels low

There’s no reason to doubt their reporting. There is a question as to whether they are disproportionately targeted because we don’t know:

  • How many of the population (spoke to media about COVID) are male vs female, and
  • How many of the threatened subset are male vs. female

Without knowing both of those, we can’t tell if women are disproportionately threatened, even if we strongly suspect that they are (as we: $HERSELF and I, suspect).

The Nature article covers that. The study is not yet published, but the initial take is that there isn’t much difference due to gender. ETA: But individual accounts look like out of those targeted, the level of hate speech is increased for those who are women or POC.

To some extent, this harassment of scientists reflects their rising status as public figures. “The more prominent you are, the more abuse you’re going to get,” says historian Heidi Tworek at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, who is studying online abuse of health communicators in the pandemic. Most US public-health departments have also received harassment directed at staff and officials, adds Beth Resnick, a public-health researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, who has surveyed 580 departments in a study that is not yet published.
And such attacks might have little to do with the science itself and more to do with who’s talking. “If you’re a woman, or a person of colour from a marginalized group, that abuse will probably include abuse of your personal characteristics,” says Tworek. For instance, Canada’s chief public-health officer Theresa Tam is Asian Canadian, and abuse levelled against her included a layer of racism, Tworek says. Kuppalli, a female scientist of colour, says she also experienced this. Abusers told her she “needs to go back where she came from”.
Both the Australian SMC and Nature ’s survey, however, found no clear difference between the proportions of violent threats received by men and women. “We were surprised,” Byford says. “We really felt women would be bearing more of a brunt in terms of the abuse that they got.”

1 Like

So, if I read the quoted text correctly, there is no basis in this article for thinking that women are disproportionately targeted. Nice for once to be wrong, I guess.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.