The Laurence Krauss Debacle

A recent Buzzfeed article by  Peter Aldhous Azeen Ghorayshi Virginia Hughes

I’d encourage everyone to read the BuzzFeed article as it is not without bias against secularism.  That being said there are a number of things in it that concern me. First and foremost the article states that Dr. Krauss has been banned from the campuses of two institutions, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario in response to complaints made against him.  If true, this points to a pattern of behavior.  The second is Dr. Krauss’s response to the current allegations against him.

From the article,

In lengthy emails to BuzzFeed News, Krauss denied all of the accusations against him, calling them “false and misleading defamatory allegations.” When asked why multiple women, over more than a decade, have separately accused him of misconduct, he said the answer was “obvious”: It’s because his provocative ideas have made him famous.

“It is common knowledge that celebrity attracts all forms of negative attention from many different angles,” Krauss said in a December email. “There is no pattern of discontent revealed here that suggests any other explanation.”

My gut response to this is that his reply smacks of deflection.  After further reflection, I am convinced that is what he is doing. I am a big fan of his work.  His ability to communicate complex and difficult ideas is one of the best I’ve seen.  Ergo, his inept response to these allegations raises even more suspicions in my mind.

Dr. Krauss has already suffered some repercussions from these allegations according to a recent Gizmodo article. If the allegations are confirmed then it is the moral responsibility of all organizations to cut ties with Dr. Krauss for two reasons.  First, the behavior itself.  This sort of behavior should not be tolerated and it is up to the secular community to make a strong statement that it will not be tolerated within it’s ranks and follow those words up with equally strong actions.  Second,  the self-professed sine qua non of the secular movement is the pursuit of the truth.  We are fond of posting memes and quotes in social media and arguing in debates that it is the quest for truth that motivates us no matter how uncomfortable that truth may turn out to be.  If these allegations are proven to be the truth then Dr. Krauss’s initial denial was a flat out lie.  That permanently disqualifies him to be a standard bearer in an organization or movement that professes to hold truth as the ultimate good.

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