Nobel laureate Tim Hunt’s remarks to a conference in the South Korean capital Seoul - “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls … three things happen when they are in the lab … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry”, when he then “said he was in favour of single-sex labs, adding that he didn’t want to ‘stand in the way of women’”, are widely known, thanks to one person’s intervention.
Has Tim Hunt got unwelcome news for her
That intervention came from (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who took up Hunt’s case in uncompromising style, berating, browbeating, bullying, accusing, harassing, insulting, and occasionally defaming anyone of opposing opinion. Some of those she accused found themselves on the receiving end of abusive emails - from her. No stone was left unturned in pursuit of proving that He Didn’t Mean It.
Ms Mensch’s obsessive defence of Hunt, together with her equally obsessive pursuit of anyone opposing her crusade, used the support of the Gamergate mob. The resulting aggression and unpleasantness left a bad taste with many in the scientific community.
What may also leave a bad taste is the news that, whatever Hunt’s supporters might have claimed, the man they championed most likely did mean what he said at the conference in Seoul - because he’s been opening mouth and inserting boot all over again.
At a discussion of Nobel Laureates titled “The role of science in the 21st century”, Hunt reprised his Seoul howler. As science journalist Sue Nelson observed of the live stream of the event, “22'10" onwards. Tim Hunt responds to the only woman on the panel re working in lab & compares it to a love affair”. And there was more.
The response to Hunt’s awkward moment followed: “Her good natured response: 'I think more about the people in my lab as children…’”. And the target of Hunt’s ill-advised encore? “The woman, by the way, is Nobel prize winner May-Britt Moser”.
But Ms Nelson is an interested party to the Hunt affair: she was one of the targets for Ms Mensch’s vitriol. Perhaps this was an isolated view? Well, no it wasn’t, as astronomer Tanya Urrutia confirmed: “Oh goody. Tim Hunt talking about love affairs in science. And the only person calling for diversity vs. lone genius is a woman”.
Ms Urrutia was not alone in passing adverse comment, being joined in this by Curt Rice: “Nobel laureate Tim Hunt just referred to the atmosphere in a lab as being like a love affair. #starmus #awkward”. So what has Ms Mensch had to say this time?
As if you need to ask: there has been silence from the woman now representing the distant constituency of Manhattan Upmarket, who earlier this year told her Twitter following “Sir Tim Hunt was viciously lied about by a pack of liars. It was a great honour to help clear his good name”. Seems she backed the wrong horse once more.
Her defence of Tim Hunt was a sham. And remember, they allowed her to become an MP.