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Matthew Francis
Physicist, science writer, hat man
Physicist, science writer, hat man

Matthew's posts

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New ways of seeing can disclose new things: the radio telescope revealed quasars and pulsars, and the scanning electron microscope showed the whiskers of a dust mite. But turn the question around: Do new things make for new ways of seeing? — William Least…

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Coming up very soon! My new CosmoAcademy class on gravitational waves and LIGO starts in just two weeks, so sign up today — and please spread the word.

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This week, science news is going to be dominated by the annual announcements of the Nobel Prizes, the most prestigious awards given out in medical research, physics, and chemistry. This year’s prize in medicine was announced this morning, to Yoshinori…

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The other metaphorical hat I wear is director of CosmoAcademy, which is the online education branch of CosmoQuest. Things have been pretty quiet with CosmoAcademy for a while, but now we’re back with a new website, three new programs, and a whole new set…

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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
* Buddhini Samarasinghe told her story here and in this follow-up thread on Twitter
* Katy Chalmers talked about her experience on Twitter, but gave me permission to link here (read the whole thread)
* 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”
* Scott Maxwell’s story is important both for his testimony, but also his strong statement of support to other people Scott Lewis hurt
Others (see for example) have mentioned being conned or otherwise hurt, without stating details. See this post by Chad Haney for more:

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.

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I promise I didn’t mean to go six months without updating the blog. On the other hand, as I’ve noted before, I don’t get paid for blogging, so not blogging generally means I’m busy with work. That’s what’s happened here: I’ve had a very busy year so far,…

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[ This blog is dedicated to tracking my most recent publications. Subscribe to the feed to keep up with all the science stories I write! ] The hunt for the truest north Many theories predict the existence of magnetic monopoles, but experiments have yet to…

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[ This blog is dedicated to tracking my most recent publications. Subscribe to the feed to keep up with all the science stories I write! ] This Thursday, the OSIRIS-REx robotic probe will launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida, destined for asteroid Bennu.…

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[ This blog is dedicated to tracking my most recent publications. Subscribe to the feed to keep up with all the science stories I write! ] The Big Bang is the central concept in cosmology — the study of the whole universe — but it can be confusing to a…
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