If you missed it, the latest installment of #IsisVsTomasson went down last night. I couldn't watch it live, but I caught up with it this morning. We talked about the first installment two weeks ago, and this one is just as juicy. Tomasson makes a good straight guy foil for stimulating these discussions and the comments of both @Isis and @DrRubidium were typically on point.
It's already made some people think about their experiences and decide they want to share them. I'de like to focus on the first ~35min, before the discussion moved to getting more research subjects, and after in the last ~15min.
It seems like there is always someone either asking what the value of pseudanonymous voices is, or what someone using a pseud is hiding. I get the question a lot and anytime I am critical of what someone has said or written, it is always they first thing they attack. The sentiment "you wouldn't be stating your opinion like that if you were using your REAL name!" is so common I feel like I should have stock text in the about page to refer to.
Of course, that's the whole point. One of the easiest ways to silence someone is to flex a power differential - using the subtle (or not) implication that This Will Go On Your Permanent Record. As a non-tenured faculty member, I've used a pseud to separate myself from the blog for exactly the point that Isis makes in the video - I want to be known for my lab's science and not for my ramblings here. When I'm at a conference I want people to seek me out to talk about the paper we just published or the grant we just got funded, and not to discuss my feeling on overhead. That's not to say that I would not discuss anything and everything I've written here with anyone, but I don't want it to be attached to my scientific identity in the way my research is.
I am also strongly against the idea that people should judge my opinions here based on looking at my publication list or my scientific lineage. The second of two points (we'll get to the first in a minute) I want to touch on that were brought up in the last 15 minutes by @eperlste was that all discussion of science should be open and using real names. The ONLY reason why people feel strongly about this is because they want to be able to place their critics in the academic caste system and see where they stand - maybe measure the length of each other's ivy. Rather than deal with criticism of the science, alone, they want to predetermine whether to take another person seriously. Is there any wonder why pseuds are rampant when that attitude is so blatantly stated?
BUT. And a huge BUT. I could get rid of my pseud today and I doubt I would suffer much, professionally. Enough people know who I am, from colleagues to the halls of NSF, that there is very little separating my comments on the blog from my identity. But as @eperlste appears to unironically state near the 101 minute mark, "I'm a white guy, so I can get away with it!" Unlike Tomasson, who is intentionally playing the white douche (again, because he can), Ethan unapologetically and unintentionally nails the whole thing home. The whole point of the #moreinvolved tag, as I understood it, was to talk about ways in which we get more people into the folds of science. The early discussion regarding minorities mirroring those in power to conform, should make it more clear to the White Guys why so many pseuds exist and why so many people who are in the majority group are happy to associate their names to their on-line presence and think You Should Too! If only there wasn't a contractual obligation to talk about cancer research in these things, that discussion thread mightn' have been broken.
In any case, find the time to watch the video above and think about where the different perspectives are coming from. I could've watched another hour on this topic. Next time we need to make sure Isis' office stash is better stocked.