Following Science Twitter in the time of the pandemic has been a personal treat (anyone else following Andy Slavitt?) This is the best way to get new COVID info fast.
That will mean enough testing to enter schools, colleges & businesses safely. 12/ https://t.co/AaTOcU4nFr
— Andy Slavitt @ 🏡 (@ASlavitt) August 5, 2020
Recently there has been MAJOR drama within the science Twitter world. My friend (a research scientist) summarized it well for me “Science Twitter has been insane recently. This is a professor named BethAnn who started a movement called MeTooSTEM to try to bring to light sexual harassment in academia, especially among a protected class of tenured professors. She was briefly [at the center of this discussion] as she did not get tenure after fighting against a prof at her university accused of sexual harassment. But, BethAnn has been accused for a long time of being anti-POC… Lots of people dropped out of the movement.”
I have experienced bullying and intimidation by the founder of MeTooSTEM (which I refuse to use as.a hashtag anymore), and I split that damn prize with her. She isn’t the movement, and there are so many of us working to change the culture of STEM. It will happen. #STEMToo
— Sherry Marts (@sherrymarts) February 22, 2020
Per the NYTimes, an “anonymous [Twitter] account, @Sciencing_Bi, was an active participant in the corner of Science Twitter that frequently discusses issues of sexual misconduct in the sciences. It claimed on at least one occasion to have grown up in Alabama, to have “fled the south because of their oppression of queer folk,” and to have attended Catholic school. The account began to pointedly make reference to being Native American and, earlier this year, began to identify as Hopi.
Since 2016, it has posted often about issues around social justice in the sciences, with a focus on activism and research about sexual harassment.”
“Then BethAnn McLaughlin, another Twitter connection, announced on July 31 that the anonymous professor had died from complications of the virus.”
“The same day, Gerardo Gonzalez, a spokesman for Arizona State University, where the anonymous Twitter user was supposedly a professor, described the anonymous account as a “hoax.”
The account had posted inaccurate information about the school, he said. “We also have had no one, such as a family member or friend, report a death to anyone at the university,” he added.”
As it turns out, this account was actually created (and killed off) by BethAnn herself.
@Sciencing_Bi seemed to make BethAnn impenetrable to criticism. Now it’s clear that this person was a figment of her imagination, not a fully realized human, and a tool to shield BethAnn herself.
Why it’s hot?
Catfishing is real. This person was believed across the scientific universe. Her university had to disavow the person before it was realized. What does that mean when we are all getting our information from “experts online” in the pandemic?