Friday, January 11, 2019

MeToo strikes in the sciences, too

Francisco José Ayala Pereda seemed to have every award and honor available to people in his field, evolutionary biology,  but in 2018 he became a victim in the MeToo scandal, when four colleagues and a grad student accused him of sexual harassment. I was reading about it in a science publication I received in e-mail.  He donated $10 million to his university, UC Irvine, with naming rights on buildings and several chairs were named in his honor. The accusations must have been believable, because he’s gone, and the buildings have been renamed.

“I deeply regret that what I have always thought of as the good manners of a European gentleman—to greet women colleagues warmly, with a kiss to both cheeks, to compliment them on their beauty—made colleagues I respect uncomfortable,” Ayala says in a statement, according to the newspaper [LA Times]. “It was never my intent to do so.”

According to Wikipedia:  “He served on the advisory board of the now defunct Campaign to Defend the Constitution, an organization that has lobbied in support the separation of church and state. He has been publicly critical of U.S. restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. He is also a critic of creationism and intelligent design theories, claiming that they are not only pseudoscience, but also misunderstood from a theological point of view. He suggests that the theory of evolution resolves the problem of evil, thus being a kind of theodicy.  Although Ayala generally does not discuss his religious views, he has stated that "science is compatible with religious faith in a personal, omnipotent and benevolent God." He also briefly served, in 1960, as a Dominican priest. Ayala does not say whether he remains a religious believer, not wanting to be "tagged by one side or the other."

I’m guessing he votes Democrat.

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