Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from June, 2019

The Dark Side of Harassment

My entire life I always questioned people that would take their own life or hurt others in rage.  It did not compute for me.  It seems no problem is that big, and there are so many ways to find solutions between the law, social services, and other mechanisms. 

But after enduring endless daily harassment from Michael Balter and GM Watch, I deeply empathize with these feelings. It is a dark part of human psychology, and a program in the brain that is triggered from feeling helpless.  It is a reptile brain taking over; backed into a corner with no other choice.  It is the extremes of fight and the extremes of flight, life and death, and I'm feeling that. 

I have so much to be grateful for.  I have a wonderful wife, and we hope to have a child on the way soon.  We both were robbed of that opportunity in previous relationships by combinations of tragedies and apathies, and now we are fixing that.  I have a great job, wonderful students, respect in my field, and a good future in leadershi…

Talking Biotech - Five Years Ago...

Five years ago today I started the Talking Biotech Podcast. 



Everywhere I go I'm amazed to find listeners.  When I don't post an episode exactly at 5AM EST on Saturday morning I get emails complaining. There have been greater than 935,000 downloads. 

One guest (who knows me pretty well) learned about the podcast from someone at a wedding, and didn't know that I was the host. Another person stopped me in the airport and asked if I was the host of Talking Biotech-- because he recognized my voice!  

Back in 2014 it was a questionable experiment in a new medium.  I didn't want to do it.  But looking back I'm glad I did.  We have created a durable archive that shows where we were, made predictions about where we are going, and then closed the loop with seeing those predictions become realities in many cases. 

So thank you to the listeners, the guests, and everyone that shared this experiment with friends.  I appreciate your support of my passion -- communicating science. 

I …

Eroding Trust : A How-To Guide to Stopping Science Communication

When you teach an inconvenient science there are many that don't want that story heard. Their arguments fall flat, they have no basis for their beliefs- so how does someone derail the freight train of factual information, especially when delivered by a compelling and trusted speaker?

It is a special kind of ad hominem-- disqualify the speaker by eroding their earned trust. 

And it is easy to do.

Trust is an important basis for communication, and it takes a long time to earn.  There are strategies to build trust, and I teach these strategies to fifty audiences a year. 

It starts with the Trust Equation.  I didn't make this up, this is well known by psychologists and sociologists. 




Trust is a perception an audience feels based on a speaker's competence, reliability, and intimacy-- divided by self-motivation or self-interest.  Different aspects are targeted by those that want to harm a speaker's trust with an audience.
How do they do that?  If you look at any online conversatio…

800 Pound Gorillas?

Social media has been noisy with folks referring to me as a drunk wife abuser and teen harasser.  This is especially prevalent on Twitter from Michael Balter and Paul Thacker (read their threads!) as well as GM Watch.  These three will do anything to block my mission of participation in public outreach around science communication and biotechnology. 

They've said it before, they'll do it again.  If you have any concerns about the things you read about me, please reach out and contact me directly. Debating hostile allegations online just gives visibility to something that does not deserve it.
The good news is that they have a nice little love circle where they retweet/share each others' filth.  But that's it.  These guys are even too slimy for the usual mudslingers to endorse. 

I've made the strategic decision to not engage it, not give it any oxygen.  That's the best move. The problem is that it leaves questions unanswered for those that have concerns.  After all,…

What Is Their Goal?

I'm in my eleventh day in Europe.  I taught a wonderful science communication workshop, enjoyed time with many students and postdocs.  I mentored early-career faculty and reviewed the work and provided guidance to shape the future of a rising-star of an institution.  I was honored to speak at Brain Bar, a wonderful conference about the future. 

All of this came on my departure from social media, particularly Twitter. I've been watching and reading.  I also took down the majority of this blog.  I need to get my head down.  My mental health is taking a hit and the personal and professional inconvenience of being doxed and harassed is getting extreme. Here's what is happening now. 

Bank Accounts, Retirement Doxxed.

Somehow a former journalist turned hate-monger named Michael Balter obtained my personal records.  It is not hard to do.  Paul Thacker and University of California San Francisco posted my social security number a few months ago.  Once you have that, you find my birthd…