Belief is a challenging and difficult thing. We sciencey types aren’t supposed to have any truck with it: we’re supposed to be objective, only trust when we have hard evidence.
But we also have to believe people when they tell us about abuse and violation of trust, even though those things happen in the dark, away from the public eye. This is the case with Scott Lewis, someone I considered a friend and colleague, someone who works in the same field of science communication I do, someone who has worked for the same organizations I have. This isn’t about me, though: it’s about the many people whose trust Scott has betrayed. I believe the testimony of the various people — both women and men — who have come forward, or who have spoken to me and others in private, about what Scott has done.
I won’t repeat what other people said. If you want to read their testimonies, they’re linked below. I’m mainly concerned with emphasizing this is systematic behavior, testified to by multiple people who don’t know each other, yet still tell consistent stories. This is a hard situation for many of us, who have worked with Scott, helped him out, given him the benefit of the doubt when he asked for it, trusted him when he told them former friends had betrayed him or made sexual advances, and therefore he was the wronged party.
Here are testimonies (trigger warning for sexual abuse in some links):
* The piece that started the public discussion is from anonymous authors; friends of mine know at least one of the authors and can vouch for their truthfulness https://medium.com/@SLabusehelp/scott-lewis-what-lies-beneath-77648aa65ec4#.c0cavqnrw
* Buddhini Samarasinghe told her story here https://plus.google.com/u/0/+BuddhiniSamarasinghe/posts/5wZzEg5jDJg
and in this follow-up thread on Twitter https://twitter.com/DrHalfPintBuddy/status/778610578680061956
* Katy Chalmers talked about her experience on Twitter, but gave me permission to link here (read the whole thread) https://twitter.com/katyannc/status/778407698706694144
* Yonatan Zunger notes that he was recently contacted by Scott, and warns others that Scott’s tactic is “reminding you of how close your relationship is to him and how much you've been helping him deal with how hard everything is in his life” https://plus.google.com/u/0/+YonatanZunger/posts/MrzMa7h7bGj
* Scott Maxwell’s story is important both for his testimony, but also his strong statement of support to other people Scott Lewis hurt https://plus.google.com/+ScottMaxwell/posts/32Dj9Wyr15n
Others (see https://twitter.com/Cosmic_Ray/status/778114329438715904
for example) have mentioned being conned or otherwise hurt, without stating details. See this post by Chad Haney for more: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ChadHaney/posts/58dzo1MpixA
I cannot say enough that I believe these testimonies, and the stories people have told me in confidence in back channels. They approached me, not vice versa: I didn’t go looking for these stories. Some of the details are very hard to hear, but they are that much more important to believe.
And let me say: if you have been hurt, you are not alone. It’s not much comfort, I know, but you aren’t the only one who has gone through this.