Denying Sexual Allegations

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. — Aristotle

Image for post
Image for post

I have written about Lawrence Krauss’ sex scandal previously, explaining what the most helpful perspective on this issue might be.

Since then, Krauss has written a response after a short (week) hiatus from Social Media.

In it Krauss clarifies that many of BuzzFeed’s sources were not accurate. He responds to each and every one of them.

BuzzFeed Sources

BuzzFeed noted that their reporting had been based on official “university documents, emails, and interviews with more than 50 people.”

Which Krauss responds to:

That statement creates the inference that the article reflects denial by one man versus claims made by many others. It could lead the reader to the conclusion that over 50 people have supported their false and primarily anonymously sourced piece.

A number of the people they contacted blind-copied me on their response, in which they repeated the refrain “that is not what happened” or “this is not how Lawrence behaves.”

The story represents a series of largely anonymous hearsay claims against me that were countered by at least an equal number of presentations of counter-evidence by numerous individuals and two reputable academic institutions.

To this, Sam Harris, a colleague and friend of Lawrence Krauss, in his latest AMA (Ask me Anything), elaborated on his view about this.

Sam Harris on the Accusations of Sexual Misconduct

Image for post
Image for post
Sam Harris:

Harris said that he “has never seen [Krauss] misbehave.” He goes on to say that there were citations in the article that were in the past not honest about the Atheist movement, one being a “sociopath.”

This all to say, that we should take what BuzzFeed says with a grain of salt.

This is not to dismiss the allegations, as I have also stated clearly in a previous blog post.

Sadly, Harris acknowledges that since the scandal was made public, some personal friends of Harris have said that the “misbehaving” has happened in the past.

“Not knowing the full range of his behavior, I really can’t offer a defense of Lawrence. . . . I certainly don’t accept everything that BuzzFeed wrote about Lawrence, but there is enough there to worry me” (paraphrased).

Then Harris says that “saying that it’s all lies is almost certainly not going to work for him because it’s almost certainly not true.”

That is not to say that BuzzFeed presented a fair case against Krauss. They claim to have sources, yet they misrepresent the Atheist movement and choose to discredit the entire branch of intellectuals that identify with it, alongside Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and others.

I have spoken about that more in my previous blog post on this case.

Now, let’s continue with what Krauss found false in BuzzFeed’s article.

Maternity Leave

For one, BuzzFeed claimed that Krauss believes that maternity leave for women is “unfair.” Where quite the opposite seems to be true, as stated by Krauss in his response:

Image for post
Image for post

My executive assistant, who has gone on maternity leave twice while in my
employ, can attest that I was shocked when I found that she was provided only six weeks paid leave.

In progressive countries, paid maternity or paternity leave is provided for far longer. I have often spoken about the need for more, not less, support for health and human services for women and men in this regard in the U.S.

It is a despicable and gross mischaracterization of my strongly held and widely espoused views for the reporters at BuzzFeed to suggest otherwise.

He then continues:

[M]y executive assistant called me one day on the verge of tears after one of the BuzzFeed reporters cold-called her at work, claiming that a vague “someone” had said that I did not support her maternity leave in 2013, nor the practice of breast pumping in the office. My assistant informed them that was untrue and that she had taken a subsequent maternity leave.

The reporter pressed her about allegations that many women had claimed I was a harasser. She responded that in the 9 years she had worked as closely with me as anyone, she had never observed or been aware of any behavior akin to the behavior they described.

Sexist and Misogynistic

Krauss then continues on a number of different allegations. Which you can all read in his original response. This one was of particular interest to me: BuzzFeed claimed that Krauss was both “sexist” & “misogynistic” for not employing women and for the majority male community that the “New Atheist” movement is.

[A]nyone who attends skeptics conferences will have noticed that the programs and speakers have become far more diverse, a development I have vocally supported.

. . .

When I was chair of physics, we not only hired the first two women faculty in the physics department, we also matriculated what was probably the first all-female entering graduate physics class.

In fact, it is a good time to be a woman in science, and I have pointed this out frequently when I lecture precisely because I believe this helps encourage young women who hear it to consider a career in science.

Claiming that the whole discipline is anti-women merely serves to perpetuate the past, and defeats the purpose of those who claim they are trying to help.

He finishes off with an apology, stating that he has been teaching, writing, and speaking publically for 30 years now. Whereas BuzzFeed was only capable of describing two instances where Krauss’ language “was interpreted as inappropriate.”

In Conclusion

Image for post
Image for post

I am particularly saddened to think that people I might have once inspired and helped may now feel betrayed or jaded, and that others who might one day be inspired by my contributions may no longer be open to such a possibility. But I am not going to let a libelous article stop me from trying to continue my work, and to maximize my positive impacts.

I will continue to try to defend science and reason against attacks emanating from those with any ideological or religious agenda. I will continue to try to reach out to young people and old alike, to help excite them about the universe, and to encourage them to think critically about it. I will continue to try to interact more effectively with others, regardless of their age, gender, or professional stature, with warmth and mutual respect.

I am sorry to those who felt betrayed by what they read in the BuzzFeed article, but I also urge you to think critically about the content of the article, the context in which it was written, the manner in which it was written, the evidence that was not presented, and the agenda that appeared to drive those who wrote it.

The Original Response

If you want to read Krauss’ entire response, here’s a pdf he shared on his Twitter page:

What I Think About Male Privilege

My First Article About Krauss’ Case

Before you go…

If you found this article helpful, click the

Image for post
Image for post

button below (remember it can go up to 50 claps — it helps me a lot if you’re generous with that clap button ;) ) or share the article on Facebook/Twitter if you want your friends to benefit from it in some way at all.

I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective. Cheers cheers cheers and until next time,

keep reflecting.

Written by

Author of “Up in the Air: Christianity, Atheism & the Global Problems of the 21st Century” on AMAZON | Exploring Ethical Living | IG: jakub.ferencik.official

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store