Nov 112014

DNA KnittingIn an attempt to not fall too behind the conversation, here’s things I stumbled upon in the past two days.

An NPR headline claims “Combining The DNA Of Three People Raises Ethical Questions.” I was all sorts of excited, cuz I like arguing, and I wanted to jump in on this. I’m already on the record as pro-eugenics (in the sane sense), this could be fun. Then I found out the headline is click-bait bullshit. It gives the impression that the DNA of 3 people is being combined into the human genome of a single new person. Instead, it’s just a mitochondrial transplant.

Any science writer worth their salt would already know these are vastly different things, and most people seeing the headline will assume, as I did, that it’s referring to modification of the base human DNA. This leads me to believe that it’s intentionally misleading in order to drive shock/outrage and draw clicks. This is shameful, I expect better from NPR.

Also, a friend pointed out that the illustration is nothing like how knitting works, so there’s that too!

Seriously though… there’s “ethical questions” being raised over mitochondria transplants? Seriously? This is the equivalent of a heart transplant. Anyone getting outraged over this is either a lunatic, or someone who makes a living generating outrage. Lame.

Thing the second: Science fiction author Benjanun Sriduangkaew is found to secretly be the same person as a blogger called RequiresHate who uses social justice rhetoric and out-of-context quotes to rile up mobs, send them to harass and threaten competing writers, and damage their careers.

The linked full write-up by Laura J Mixon is… very long. It lists the names of authors Sriduangkaew targeted, including ones I like quite a bit, such as Bacigalupi, Jemisin, Sullivan, and Rothfuss.

And it contains such jems as “she is … stalking, threatening, and harassing” and “She has issued extremely explicit death, rape, and maiming threats”

Lovely. >:( On the plus side, the SFF community is rather loudly making all this known, and it seems like this sort of cancer will have a harder time getting a foothold in the future. Hooray for my in-group! They are a just and righteous people, shining light into their own dark places!

  6 Responses to “Trying to stay sorta timely”

  1. I find it interesting that in this post, you are for identifying RequiresHate, and in the last post you were against a particular case of doxing, with the language implying that you’re against the practice in general. I’m even more interested in the fact that I agree with both these sentiments, and therefore I need to think about ethics some more.

    • [I’m sorry if there’s an edit button I couldn’t find]

      To be clear, I can understand sometimes being for it and sometimes against it, like thinking murder is wrong but sometimes better than the alternatives. I’m just not sure whether I approve of this specific one for ingroup reasons, or for the better justification my brain came up with; independently, I’m not sure whether that justification is an appropriate one, or whether other similar justifications are appropriate.

      • >You might think that the word “doxing” should be narrower than I’m making it, but either way identifying Requires Hate as Benjanun Sriduangkaew is still publishing information which somebody is attempting to keep secret.

        Eh. I’m a major proponent of full transparency. I understand some people’s desire for anonymity, and I respect their wishes. Until they start attacking and destroying other people’s work/reputation/lives. Then I have no problem with pointing out that two people on the internet are actually the same person. Do you believe in what you are saying, and that you have Right on your side? Then have the courage of your convictions to say “Yep, this is me, and this is my opinion.” If you’re attacking people to destroy them, and fear that if others knew that it was you who was doing this perhaps you would suffer some negative social repercussions, than maybe *you shouldn’t be such an asshole*.

        Just MHO though.

    • I don’t consider identifying RequiresHate as Benjanun Sriduangkaew to be doxing at all. The only info given out was that they are the same person. It’s not like their address or phone number or SSN or anything was given. Revealing someone’s real name *might* count as doxing if they had previously been keeping it private. But they have a public persona, a blog that uses that name, etc. That’s no more doxing someone than if I were to say that Richard Bachman is Stephen King.

      • It’s still identifying the two as the same person. One of the benefits of being online, in general, is anonymity. If somebody has an online presence under their real name, that doesn’t mean they don’t also want to be anonymous for other purposes. As a mild example, Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex would prefer not to be linked to his real name online. He doesn’t make it difficult, especially with a specific recent post, but he has good reasons for wanting some level of anonymity, and other people similarly might have good reasons for wanting more.

        Sure, publishing somebody’s SSN or address is worse than publishing their name, but that doesn’t mean that destroying anonymity by just publishing their name isn’t also bad. You might think that the word “doxing” should be narrower than I’m making it, but either way identifying Requires Hate as Benjanun Sriduangkaew is still publishing information which somebody is attempting to keep secret.

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